I am just rounding up my trip to Mali, West Africa and am preparing to go home. For geography and statistics buffs, a summary of the country is listed here. (by no less than the CIA).
It is a very poor country, with a GDP per capita of USD1,200 per annum. As with most statistics, this is an average.
Much like if you put your legs in boiling water and cover your head with ice, statistically you would be warm all over. So you see a large number of Mercs on the road, except that the owners probably represent less than 1% of the population.
The population breakdown shows almost 50% between 0 -14 years of age, a really young population.
Fortunately for me, I did not have a whirlwind schedule like what Brip Blap described recently. We had a chance to visit two towns away from the capital. (Though I really wanted to, I could not visit famed Timbuctoo, about a 1,000 km from the capital.)
The lessons I am bringing home for myself is deep, unbridled gratitude.
Gratitude for the unexplained events of chance that resulted in me being brought up in my country, where I had a much better education and hence a better chance at life.
Gratitude that I am better off than perhaps 95% of Mali’s population of 12 million people.
Gratitude that whatever my debt levels may be, I still have a very decent roof over my head, food on the table, electricity at the flick of a switch and clean fresh water at the turn of a tap.
Gratitude that my children have a much better life than those little boys and girls who, burnt black by the sun, run after cars and try to sell tissues, toothbrushes and other assorted items.
My wife continualy advises me that we should always look downwards, so that we look at the so many people who do not have what we have and feel grateful. Rather than upwards at all those Richie Rich people and envy them.
I slip up on this quite often.
The trip has nailed this lesson to me once again.
MMND has mentioned a memorable quote in her article on the proven power of gratitude. ”
“In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.”
May my gratefulness today and everyday make me happy!