The Haves and the Have-nots

The stark difference between a child growing up here in Australia and a child growing up in a third world country in Africa is extravagant.

In my job I get to go to many houses and today was no different. One of the houses I went to is a house that I visit regularly where the client has 2 children. The sporting equipment that was there in the front and back yards would dwarf the sporting equipment available in whole towns in developing countries. After my walk across Africa earlier this year it really hit home the difference between children living here and Southern Africa.

Starting in the front garden, this home has Totem Tennis on the front lawn and soccer goals with a few soccer balls scattered around. From there you walk down the driveway and to the right you are greeted with an artificial turf cricket pitch which is enclosed by a net and also accompanied by a bowling machine. Following that you look to the left and there is a table soccer table, bikes and scooters. From there you head to the backyard and are greeted with a massive trampoline, basketball ring, boxing speed ball, swings, cubby house and wait for it a huge patch of artificial lawn with about 5 holes in it for putt putt golf.

Now I am aware this is not the norm in every house in Australia but it is a stark reminder of how well we have things here in Australia. I remember many times whilst walking across Africa I was greeted with children playing soccer in the street and on makeshift soccer pitches without a blade of grass to be seen anywhere. Their balls were made out of several plastic bags tightly wrapped together with string around the bags to hold them together. These children had never seen or kicked a proper soccer ball but good luck trying to wipe the smiles off their faces.

But the thing that struck me the most at the home I visited today was the “Santa Please Stop Here” sign located at the top of the driveway. Like really what more could Santa possibly bring to this household. It is not the children’s fault and probably not the parents fault either but society as a whole has a lot to answer for. We are so fixated in a world of consumerism and the need to have more and more so it begs the question when is enough enough?

I went to the baseball here in Canberra the other night and was in the merchandise tent where they were selling basic snap back hats for $55. To my amazement in the few minutes I was in there 2 people came in and purchased them without any concern for the price. I can’t even think of the last time I spent $55 on an article of clothing let alone just a hat.

Whilst in Mozambique earlier this year I went on a field visit with Oxfam, an organisation that I am honored to be an ambassador for. I met one lady in particular whose story still keeps me up at night. She was a widow who had 4 children. She lived in a basic corrugated iron shed which would be no bigger than an average bedroom here in Australia.  Sadly her eldest child had passed away, her next eldest had HIV/AIDS, and her only son suffered from a mental disability that meant he had to sleep under a tarpaulin next to her tin shed which would flood every time they received any decent rainfall. That left the youngest daughter who was the victim of a tragic hit and run and was paralyzed from the waist down. The mother was getting minimal help from the government because the country is so poor so would only receive around AUD$9 a month. With that money she is supposed to feed herself and her three remaining children and pay for other living expenses. You don’t have to be Einstein to work out that one hat purchased at the baseball was the equivalent for this lady to live off and feed her children for 6 months.

So this Christmas don’t be a sheep and follow the rest and get sucked into the world that is drunk on consumerism. Consider donating to a charity and really change someone’s life for the better.