Visiting Ethiopia made Brittney think twice about the privileges she had at home.
I was born in Australia, a place where education is a given, food is a given, clean water…well, it’s everywhere! It comes from our taps in the kitchen, bathrooms and even our fridges! But hey, I have never thought twice of these privileges, I’ve always had access to it, so really, it never dawned on me how lucky I was. That was until I met people who were forced to go without.
Now I want you to imagine the same, I want you to imagine you were born into poverty. Just imagine if your fate changed and you weren’t born in Australia, instead you were born in Ethiopia. Things you once took for granted have disappeared.
If you’re among Ethiopia’s poor, you might not have been born in a hospital, instead your mother had you at home on a dirt floor. When you're ill, you can’t go to the hospital, instead you soldier on, praying for survival. Your height may have been stunted due to malnutrition.
You never had the chance for a real childhood, so no, you didn’t go to the beach or play with your race cars and Barbie and Ken. Instead, you were forced to stay home, helping Mum around the house or Dad on the farm. This means, most of the time, school goes unattended. You are living in a one bedroom, mud house.
So no, you don’t have Facebook. But how about we take it a step further, and just forget about electricity all together! What? No electricity? Yes, but who cares about electricity when you don’t have clean water and you’re starving?
My journey to Ethiopia highlighted the extent of difficulties families go through when they’re living in poverty. Everyone’s initial thought in a modern society is that people living in poverty “don’t have enough food” which is true, yet they can also face deadly diseases from unclean water, some are subject to HIV, child labour and sexual exploitation. A lack of education can mean there’s no way to get a job, and therefore no way of breaking the cycle of poverty.
When I think about these issues, not one resonates with me here in Australia. If they did, I would be rushed to hospital, receive support from the government or be protected by a police authority.
But now when I look back on my journey to Ethiopia, it frightens me to understand that this is the life many people are living. It took me a while to comprehend why these children had to suffer through these circumstances, and the only conclusion I could come to was that they were born in a misfortunate position. Today, as I am writing this, I know that some of the friends I made on this journey are yet to escape poverty.
Together we have the power to take notice of the constant cries for help and provide these families with the same opportunities we’re lucky enough to have. Why don’t we all stand together, do the 40 Hour Famine and fight against poverty!