Tuesday, June 26, 2012

the survival game

after finishing a lunch of left-over pasta, fresh tomatoes from my neighbor's garden, and an oatmeal raisin cookie, i sat down on my comfy leather couch with my laptop, thinking of all the things i need to get accomplished today.  if i'm completely honest i was feeling slightly burdened.  i didn't make it far down my to-do list before getting sidetracked...and realizing that my burdens pale in comparison to those of others.  


there was a message in my inbox inviting me to try and survive on $1.25 a day.  one dollar and 25 cents.  that wouldn't have even covered the cost of my cookie at great harvest.  and at that rate it would take me years to be able to afford even a salvaged couch at a yard sale.


i took the challenge.


it opened my eyes.


like you, i have heard the statistics that a quarter of the world's population lives in extreme poverty...defined as less than $1.25 a day.  and like some of you i have traveled to parts of the world where many of these people live.  but there was something about being faced with the real-life choices these people have to make everyday that shed new light on the plight of the poor.
during my trips to haiti one thing i noticed was the almost stoic and hardened disposition of the haitian women.  after playing the survive 125 game i think i may have a better understanding of why.  
during this game i had to make decisions about whether to vaccinate my youngest child or let the rest of them eat that week, whether to let my child skip school to make the trip for fresh water or subject my whole family to the diseases swimming in the dirty slum water, whether to allow my daughter to earn much-needed wages at a local factory or protect her from potential sex traffickers...


even though it was just a game, i allowed myself to apply the situations and choices to my own life and i slowly found my own heart hardening in order to protect myself and my family.  in the survival game there is no room for emotional decision-making...every choice is life or death.


in the midst of all the hunger and corruption and heartbreak that this game threw at me there was at one point a pop-up window notifying me that my son {whom i had just had to pull from school  because i couldn't afford the uniform} had been sponsored by compassion and would be re-enrolled.  i felt genuine hope...and for me...this was just a game...


for divya patel {a single mother of four living in india and working as a brick-maker} and millions of others...they don't just play a game of survival - they live it every day...