I've been reflecting lately on how many things we know and learn in life that we just take for granted. They don't seem like a 'big deal.' For instance:
- knowing how to plan/organize
- knowing how to study
- having/managing a bank account
- knowing how to use an ATM machine
- having a budget
- how to mail a letter
- learning how to drive
As we grow up, we learn so many of these life skills so easily. The opportunities are there to learn them. We don't really stop to think about them, we just learn and do them.
But many of the poor and disadvantaged in the world don't have this opportunity. In our almost 2 years here, I have found myself helping so many people fill in a bank account deposit slip - or showing them how to use the ATM machine. The look of helplessness on their faces at facing these simple tasks and not knowing what to do is heart breaking. One day I stood in line at the ATM for a long time behind a man. I couldn't imagine what he was doing that was taking so long. Finally he turned to me with a look of agony on his face, and said, "could you please help me?" I was so glad I was there to do that.
A friend here told me of a recent experience she had. She knew her husband was meeting a couple of young men from Masi, one of the townships nearby, at the bank to do something. She went to the mall, and was surprised to see one of the young men just wandering around. She asked him about the appointment with her husband, and he gave some vague explanation of why he wasn't there. They talked for a few minutes, and it suddenly dawned on her. He didn't know how to get in the double lock security door at the entrance of the bank! You wait for a green light, open the first door and go in, let that door close, then wait for a green light to go in the second door to then enter the bank. She went to the bank with him and helped him get in.
Such a simple thing - but if you don't know how to do it, it's a big thing! In the culture many of us have grown up in, we would have looked at the door/system if we didn't understand it and thought "what's wrong with this door?!" To those who haven't had the opportunities and training we've had, they look at the door and think "what's wrong with me?!"
It is so important as part of our "mission" here that we impart self-worth, security, and dignity!! It's one way of spreading the "glory of God" when we let people know how valued they are in God's eyes because He created them. When we have opportunities to teach and pass on simple life skills, it does so much to do that and to help a person feel good about themselves!
"God created man in his own image." Genesis 1:27