Today we move into our house here in South Africa. Those of you who have followed this journey know how excited we are to have our own place. There were many houses to look at within the allowance given by my husband’s employer.
We didn’t need the largest house on the block. In fact, we ruled out several McMansions in favor of something “smaller” with some yard space. (Yes, this is actually a small house compared to others here.) And we still ended up with a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with a large kitchen, a scullery, bar, great room, hot tub, swimming pool, front and back yards, and a built-in braai porch.
We have never lived in any place so grand. We do not need these things, but I am grateful his company provides us such a standard of living, making our time away from our true home, and our family and friends, more comfortable. And I hope that living here gives our guests a wonderful experience when they visit Africa for the first time.
We will love and enjoy our home. And I am very excited for it. But it will always be important for me to keep perspective on the world around me.
We were born into a first-world country, where even our working class families have a quality of life that exceeds most other nations; a life that has been very fortunate. Yes, we worked hard for our education and in our careers, but not everyone has opportunity for either quality education or advancement, so for many, hard work can only go so far.
For each of us who have this incredible opportunity to work and travel the world, there are others who live hand-to-mouth. There are those whose “ikhaya” (the Zulu word for “home”) is wherever they can safely huddle together in groups at night, and build a fire of whatever garbage and wood they can collect. There is no end to the daily grind of getting up early, working hard for very little, collecting scraps for a fire after dark on the way back to a makeshift settlement on the side of the road, and trying to keep their family together.
So today, as I’m so grateful for our new “home” here in Pretoria, I need to acknowledge those ikhayas I pass within just a few short miles of where we live.
The disparity in South Africa is not just the gap between the ultra rich and the poor. A working class American becomes a magnate in comparison. I’ve donated today to Habitat for Humanity South Africa, and hope if you are like me, you’ll take a moment to reflect on what it might be like to live along the side of a road near one of the wealthy neighborhoods of your country’s capital city, and consider making your own donation, no matter how small, to this great organization. Simply click the link above to go to their donation page.