Wednesday, November 2, 2011

HUMBLED BY AFRICA

Every year, my school has MYSA days. MYSA stands for Mathare Youth Sports Association. The organization describes itself this way:

MYSA is a selfhelp youth programme linking sports with environmental cleanups, AIDS prevention, Leadership training and other community sevice activities involving approximatey 20,000 young people. Started in 1987 as a small selfhelp project to organize sports and environmental cleanups within Mathare slums in Nairobi, the organization has grown from a small youth to renowned youth serving organization that promotes sports for development...

Their motto is: You do nothing, we do nothing. You do something, we do something.

The idea is that these kids aren’t just supposed to receive support. They have to do something to get something. The more they do, or the more they clean and such – the more points they can collect. Some of the kids with the most points get to come visit Norway and play in the Norway Cup. Every year these kids visit our school prior to a “work day” where we, the students, get off from school to work in order to raise money for them. On these two-day visits they have an entertainment day and a “mathare safari” day. On the entertainment day, the 3rd graders (my grade this year) work with the kids from Kenya (The Mathare slum, which also is one of the worst slums in Africa, is in Kenya) and make up a show for the rest of the school. In the end of this performance the Kenyans perform African dances for us and you can see in the video below.

These kids are absolutely wondeful and I feel like such a self-centered, egoistic and spoiled kid with no ideas about the real pleasures of life when I see them and how they are. They have huge smiles on their faces, they’re constantly dancing or hugging each other. They love to hold hands and are so enthusiastic about things. When they presented themselves, they told us about what they liked to do. They loved to dance, to sing, to read, to play soccer. Had you asked a group of Norwegian teens, they would have said they like to play video games, hang out with friends, party, watch tv-shows, blog……

I’m not saying all teens are like this of course. I for one love to read, but I find myself on the computer more often than with my nose in a book. One of the things that I noticed and that touched me the most was that these kids did not seem shy at all. When the Norwegian kids were up performing, they were sort of shy but tried to perform. The Kenyans were eagerly trying to engage the audience, they performed with passion and fire in their eyes. They seemed to be having a wonderful time! They were not shy at all! I think that people tend to be shy because of the fear of being judged, but these guys didn’t even seem to care or know about judgement. They are innocent, and I admire and envy them that.

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My history class also recently watched a movie called Hotel Rwanda. It’s based on a true story of the Rwanda Genocide. The movie really touched me and made me sort of, ashamed perhaps. I know that there is no reason for me to think that way honestly, I know I never did anything to Africans or anyone else for that matter. However, I somehow feel ashamed and/or guilty that partly given my skin color I have a good life. I have more than I need, my family is never in danger, we are respected by others in society, I live in a good country, I never starve, I sleep in a soft bed, I just have it so good and I don’t even appreciate it. In one part of the movie, all the “whites” were transported out to safety while the Rwandans had to stay and take care of themselves. Why does skin color ever have to matter? Who had the right to decide that one color was better than the other? Of course these are just rhetorical questions, and chances are they will never be answered. It just bothers me and where better to express feelings than on a blog? I recommend you watch Hotel Rwanda if you haven’t already. It makes you think.

-S.

2 comments:

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  2. Hey, I think your experience with the kids is great. You have to feel how you feel, but I hope you wouldn't be too hard on yourself because you have some advantages that others don't have. Not your fault you have the advantages, and blessings on you that you recognize the value to both parties when you share.

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