Ahem! not hating..just saying! (are YOU guilty?)
We are all guilty of being wasteful..yeah we have trashed food, bought stuff we don’t need and probably never even use them…Gera aka Miss Gera shares her thoughts!
I am not one to hate, so i’ll just say that I do not admire wasteful people. You know the ones I mean: the housewife who leaves the kitchen faucet on while she wipes the counters. The family that discards children clothes that no longer fit. The restaurant manager who authorizes his employees to trash all the day’s unsold bread. The man that spends hundreds of dollars at the grocery store only to throw the uneaten food away when it spoils… The list goes on and on. It seems like i live in a society in which wastefulness is accepted.
Whenever I thoughtlessly threw away a full plate of food, my very frugal mother, in her thick Ugandan accent, would say, “there’s a child somewhere who’s starving!” “Well mum, I can’t exactly give them my food,” I would think to myself (‘think’ because if you know my mother, you know never to talk back) Honestly, what could my 10 year old self do about their situation? It’s not until I went got into college that I began to comprehend her words.
Private Christian university has been quite the experience. It still is. Mostly because I have been exposed to students with some of the richest parents in the state of Texas. I’m not unaccustomed to wealth but this is different. I’m talking about old money handed down through generations. These people can afford the $35,000 tuition, $15,000 room, board and books expenses and still top it off by buying their 18 year old freshmen children Abercrombie shirts for the summer, Ugg boots for the winter and BMWs to match. The university itself is just grand! Some of the dorms are like small apartments, the classrooms have the latest projection technology, the workout facility has rows and rows of fitness equipment and, no joke, the grass even looks greener. Being an unexposed African girl fresh off the boat from Uganda, I imagined the entire city of Waco was just as splendid. A bus ride round the ‘city’ quickly showed me otherwise.
Public transportation in this neck of the woods leaves a lot to be desired. Waco can only afford nine bus routes with just one bus per route. Missing the bus would mean a person has to wait an entire agonizing hour for the next one. Well at least the wait at bus stop is comfortable, right? Wrong! The ‘bus stop’ is a shadeless, plastic bench so, in the 98 degree Texas summer, waiting for a bus feels like sitting on a hot plate while baking in a brick oven. Most of the locals (or ‘cuddies’ as they call themselves) who rode on the bus that day left a putrid aroma as they made their way to the back of the bus; a clear sign that they hadn’t bathed in a while. The houses they walked out of had holes in the roofs and at one house, i even spotted a clothes lines (which lead me to believe the residents hand-washed all their apparel). What I saw, in one word, was poverty. Such a contrast to the wealth oozing out of every pore of the university located in the middle of the city.
One evening, while walking home from class, I saw a lady digging through a dumpster like she was looking for something. My first thought: gross! Another evening, i saw a man doing it and frequently thereafter, I saw numerous people rummaging through dumpsters near the campus. What was strange was they neither looked homeless nor hungry. However, I had homework or a meeting or someplace else to be so I thought nothing of it, and went about my business. In May, at the end of the school year, while packing up to leave for the summer, I had to make a quick trash run. I picked up my filled bag of ripped up papers and walked outside. I could not believe what I saw in the dumpster outside my dorm: barely worn clothes and shoes, unopened pencils, half used rims of paper, laundry detergent and drier sheets and believe it or not, a mini refrigerator! The images of what I constantly saw while riding the buses in Waco came rushing back to me. Not 10 blocks from campus was a person who actually needed these things but instead there they lay, discarded in the dumpster. It was then that I understood what my mother had meant. I was infuriated by the selfishness of these rich students. How long would it have taken them to load up their fancy cars, drive to Goodwill or The Salvation Army and donate the things they considered trash? Had they just not seen the needy who resided so close to their luxurious campus? Or maybe they had and just did not care?
There’s an inspiring story I read a while back about Mahatma Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), the great Indian statesman and spiritual leader who is noted for his unusual humanity and selflessness. Gandhi was boarding a train one day with a number of companions and followers, when his shoe fell from his foot and disappeared in the gap between the train and platform. Unable to retrieve it, he took off his other shoe and threw it down by the first. Responding to the puzzlement of his fellow travellers, Gandhi explained that a poor person who finds a single shoe is no better off – what’s really helpful is finding a pair. If Gandhi could still give cheerfully with the little he had, then what more can you and I?
Being blessed does not afford us the luxury to be wasteful: it bestows upon us the responsibility to bless others. Who’s to say, one day, the tables won’t turn? Imagine what it would feel like to have so little and watch the wealthy throw away the things you need. Try to put yourself in their shoes then think about your own actions. If you are among the wasteful, I ask that you do me a few favors. Next time you are serving yourself dinner, put a little less on your plate to avoid throwing away the excess. Next time you are spring cleaning, donate the things you no longer use to help the less fortunate. Turn off the lights when you leave the room and close the faucet while you brush your teeth because this helps conserve valuable resources. These seemingly small things will affect both the environment and your pocket but most importantly, they will help out those who truly need it.