A meaningful life?

In a township in the outskirts of Cape Town a woman is rebuilding her home after a fire destroyed everything she had. Her name is Lizzy. She has two children. They lost everything – for the second time. To us it would probably not seem as much of a loss – a shelter that could barely keep out the wind in summer and the warmth in winter.  Her only possession a mattress, a few kitchen utensils, buckets and books –yet she managed to make a life. She has no one but herself to trust and to rely on for survival. With limited income or anyone to help her out, she is struggling for survival for her and her children on a day-to-day basis. 

This led me to wonder and consider what keeps Lizzy going, what gives her the passion, faith, will and the want to get up in the morning and start from scratch – it takes courage and determination to keep one inspired daily but considering her circumstances how does she do it?  Lizzy claims her children keep her faithful and focused.  Despite being disadvantaged based on her living circumstances Lizzy does not only provide for herself, she makes an effort and takes time to care for others in the squatter camp – ensuring that people have food and get medical attention when needed. She creates order where it does not exist, she provides care where no care is given; she shares food even when she does not have sufficient for her and her children.  Her voluntary work to ensure that the camp stays organized helps others stay faithful and hopeful. She appears an angel in a life where reality bites.  

Maybe it is difficult to understand that Lizzy’s work might indeed be more fulfilling than a well-paid office job. Lizzy might keep it going because of her children – yet it is not difficult to understand that she was born with a purpose to care for people. That too keeps her going. Perhaps Lizzy knows that life won’t necessarily get more meaningful with material goods – easier yes, but more fulfilling? The rationale for aiding others rests on a passion and care for other human beings. It is a gift. Caring has nothing to do with social status and everyone has the opportunity to care in many ways. How does one care? Share! Share what you have. It’s a small gesture – it’s not about distributing money, but rather the extra loaf of bread maybe a sheet, blanket, pot or pan that one no longer has use for – it can be of use to someone who needs it.

“If you can’t feed a hundred persons, then feed just one,” Mother Teresa wisely said. She found her life’s purpose in living and working amongst the poor in ways the majority of us would not have the courage to do. For Mother Teresa this was not a sacrifice or a matter of discomfort. It was a call that could not be ignored - a call to show up and act upon humanity with kindness and love. There are few that can be compared to Mother Teresa. Yet – everyday people like Lizzy reminds us how we all can make an effort to help other human beings with what we have; every little we offer others goes a long way to make a difference in someone else’s life. 

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