Monday, November 24, 2008

how lucky we are

Ever have those moments when you're just so fed up with the people around you? you curse them, swear under your breath, promise yourself you'll leave as soon as you can. And then you calm down, and beg Hashem to forgive you and disregard every harsh word you've ever spoken or thought about those you love.

I was at a charity event last week. My mother was being honored for her involvement with the organization. One of the good deeds the organization does is send money to the Neve Michael Children's village in Pardess Chana, Israel. Neve Michael is home to hundreds of children who cannot go home---children from broken homes and from homes where they were physically and emotionally abused.

A girl, around my age, spoke at the event in mixed Hebrew/English. She was raised in Neve Michael. Her first memory of her father was of visiting him in jail. He's a "drugsaholic" - her word to describe him. Her mother goes from boyfriend to boyfriend - each more abusive than the next - always crying for lack of money. She loved being in Neve Michael because there she was normal. Her story was one of the better ones.

All this girl ever wanted in life was to be able to come home from school, with dinner ready and a loving family waiting for her. As she said those words, I was sitting around a table with my family at the event, I couldn't help but feel blessed for this small thing that I have.

At work the next day, a new coworker, also around my age, was telling me about her difficult childhood. Her mother got pregnant in high school. She never knew her father - and when she finally met him this summer, he had a new family of his own and he wanted nothing to do with her. She lives with her mother and half-sister (from another father, this one abusive and thankfully no longer in the picture either) in subsidized housing on in one of the worst areas of the city.

When she was in high school, her mother decided to go to college to become a nurse instead of a housekeeper, and so better provide for the family. But money was tight. Often, she would get headaches at school from having not eaten all day. Oatmeal in the morning, plain pasta in the evening. That's it. No money for fancy food. To this day she never buys cereal if it's not on sale.

She told me about a teacher at school chastizing the class that they weren't doing their part to fundraise for a trip. Here this teacher was talking about why they needed to give money for a trip, when all she had to eat that day was some lousy oatmeal. I'm not talking about the 1940s. This is something that happened maybe 10 years ago. Not in India or Africa. But right here, under our noses.

How many times have you complained about what your mother made for dinner? Or that your little brother is hogging the TV? Or that your father won't buy you a new car?

How many people wish they simply had those people to complain about?

3 comments:

EsPes said...

so true! great post!

frumskeptic said...

oy... oy...those stories do make me feel like a spoiled shallow idiot .

Maidel said...

don't worry, you're not the only one frumskeptic.