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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Life Isn't Fair

You know the saying, I complained about having no shoes until I saw someone with no feet? Well that was me today. I've spent the last couple of days complaining about the challenges in my life and then today I spoke to two young people who don't even have the chance to do what I've done. Names are changed.

A young lady shared her story with me. Shereen is just 20 years old but 5 years ago while riding in a van with her best friend, several other friends, and her brother, the van driver fell asleep, there was an accident, and her brother died. She got emotional as she shared her story after we'd spent a day playing in the snow and hanging out. I listened as Shereen talked about her dream to finish her graphic design degree but that she was afraid she'd have to return to her home country and get married before that happened. She missed her family but when she went to visit, her parents brought a train of potential suitors to her, insisting she get married, have babies, and settle down. In her village, 18 was the oldest that young ladies got married and often, because there was a shortage of females, the girls would forge their age on the marriage papers and say they were 18 even if they were 16 or 17. Shereen was already past the respectable age of marriage.

Then on the bus ride home, Joseph talked about his dream to travel, learn about other cultures, become a movie director and write scripts. He came from a family of 7 but only he and his sister were still single. His two brothers still lived at home with their families and his father worked in another country to support them. It is common for one person to leave the village and go to Kuwait or Dubai or another country with good economy and work there, sending money home to support the rest of the family. I asked Joseph if his brothers worked at all; he shook his head and said no, they didn't. Even though they were in their 20s and had families of their own to support, his father sent money home regularly to pay for their expenses. When they were young, his father was rich and the brothers could ask for anything and they would get it. When Joseph was born, however, his father lost his fortune and life became difficult. Joseph started to work at the age of 9, often leaving home and traveling to other cities to work in a spice shop, a delivery truck, and a coffee shop. He was working on finishing his degree, impatient that at age 22 he still had 3 more years to go. Once he finished, he would be expected to find a good job and help support those who still lived at home. In his culture, he said, by the time you turned 24 or 25 they expected you to have a diploma and a good job.

Each young person has dreams of their own that I'm convinced God placed in their hearts. They are responsible, caring, kind young people yet their culture dictates they lay aside their dreams in order to honour their parents and support their families. And me? I complain because I have to work a 10-hour day. They work 27 hours a week and take 18 credits a semester.

Life isn't fair. Why do I get to travel the world, after completing a graduate degree, and they don't? I don't have the answers. It is humbling, though, to realize the privileges I've been given. That carries an equally heavy load of responsibility. I would like to use the opportunities to encourage and help others as much as I can. That is my dream. Now I need to learn how to put it into practice.

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