My youngest brother Dan, and his wife, Carol, are in the country of Chad. They have gone there for meetings where my brother is a featured speaker, and Carol is working with others to hold a children’s program.
If you look at a map of Africa, Chad is right in the center. Until 1960 Chad was part of France’s “Africa holdings”. At that time it achieved independence and has gone through decades of civil war, threats and invasions from Libya located on its northern borders, and sporadic rebellions from within. In this land-locked country, three times larger than the state of California, there are multiple ethnic groups, religions, and social inequities. Female life expectancy is 49 years and male 47, so only about 3 percent of the population is over age 64. Latest reports bring news of a cholera epidemic hitting central Africa with Chad being one of the countries most severely affected.
In a short email to my brother this morning I asked how they were doing and gave some basic news, ending with the information that tonight I am going to a fashion-show at an élite hotel in Boston as a fundraiser for breast cancer research and treatment. I stopped in the middle of typing. It is such a stark contrast to the world that they are currently experiencing. It is mind-boggling. I am going to a sequins and silk event at a cost of seventy-five dollars a ticket (I am invited by a generous friend to go for free). We will sip on cocktails in a beautiful lobby at the Liberty Hotel, a historic building that was originally the Charles Street Jail and is now turned into a luxury hotel. After cocktails and mingling, we will go to a fashion show and swoon over a designers creations. I ended the email saying “It’s a world removed from where you are, and what you are doing”. And it is.
I am again reminded that in one part of the world extreme poverty and problems are constant, even as in another place, an elegant fashion show, complete with music and soft lights, is being held. Even more striking, in one part of the city a meal for the homeless will be served out of large metal pots, while in another, white- coated waiters will offer appetizers to a well-dressed crowd.
I’ve experienced both worlds and one thing I know is that in both places there are hearts that are empty and longing. Your belly and wallet can be full, while your heart and soul, hidden by the façade of silk and velvet, are empty and crying out for meaning. A world removed? In some ways yes, in others not at all.
Have you experienced both worlds? What is your response to the contrast?
- Cholera sweeps western and central Africa (guardian.co.uk)
- Africa without Qaddafi: The Case of Chad (appablog.wordpress.com)
4 thoughts on “A World Removed”
Marilyn you have articulated very well on this subject. We all need to be sensitive lest we become callous and uncaring. I didn’t ask to be born in a country of abundance, but I have been challenged to care and to share. Every person, created in the image of God, must be acknowledged.
“For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required..” Luke 12:48
This post articulates what I’ve been feeling as I back-pack through SE Asia, witnessing what the rest of the world lives like, and reminiscing, in contrast, my life in Boston. Thanks.
I have a little story here. In June one of the dear ladies in our church died, and the reception after her funeral service was held in Tunbridge Wells’ 4* hotel “The Spa”!
Judy and her husband had helped with a club in the least advantaged part of town and so people entered its posh portals who would otherwise not have been able to afford to and were welcomed by the family.