Less is more – so poor, yet so happy
The weekend has arrived on Savusavu island, and it is time to explore the unknown, so we hired a little 4WD vehicle where we learn a valuable lesson about how locals can be so poor yet so happy.
We hope to find a beach in a little town, have a swim and a picnic, and maybe find some kids for my son to play with.
Little did we realize that the Chinese are making ‘real’ roads, and the terrain is meant for a rugged 4WD than the little beast we have hired. Wish we got some advice from luxury travel experts around the island before hiring a car. This was however never going to ruin our family travel even when we found we were limited. We have always taken challenges such as these during our single parent travel and turned them into memorable moments.
It takes us 2 hours to drive 40 km, over a ‘kidney-shaking’ terrain, and bridges with no sides. The houses we spot along the way are humble dwellings. As I drive, I start to notice the change in the people who walk along the way.
My eyes are opened, and so is my heart. I start to notice the poor – the clothes that are dirty and torn, and the lack of footwear – I see they are so poor yet so happy.
Men and boys walking everywhere – cane knife in hand; as they seek to find food.
We get lost – really lost, and stop to ask where we can find a beach. These lovely ladies help us and again we see that they are so poor yet so happy. Notice the one minimal shoe only worn; and the old kids top, that is tied to form sun protection. There is no house in sight – they have a long walk on this hot and rocky road.
We head down a bumpy, muddy dirt track that a friendly man tells us will lead us to some kids, and a beach of Tacilevu. Why are these people so poor yet so happy?
The track ends, and children greet us excitedly. It is a sea of children running excitedly towards us.
This is a village with hundreds of children. They seem to dart out of the houses as we enter the village.
Yet they do not have any electrical connection. So how do they live like this?
They have not one car between them that I can see – they walk and they carry all. They have no Wii games to occupy their time.
There are no beach toys, or buckets and spades to play in the sand with. But the kids just seem to exude joy and laughter.
There are no designer kids clothes – yet the girls are so beautiful! Just look at the girl below who is so poor yet so happy.
There are no swimsuits….yet she looks like a model to me as she sits on the beach.
These girls have no mall to hang out with their friends this afternoon; they are ‘besties’ anyway. They pose using a scarf and a curtain. It’s fun!
There is no playground – only a tree to climb. One older boy isn’t so pleased, but the rest seem happy enough. We later learn his dad wants him to go work with the pigs.
They have no climbing bar, just branches. These kids are having fun – so poor yet so happy hanging out in nature. I think the western world has it wrong.
There are no swings. (Note – the girl below – her dress is a man’s singlet and she has one shoe, and yet she is so happy and gorgeous).
And there are no balancing poles – so they use a coconut tree trunk and bamboo as they cross the water. Explorason is having fun too.
There is not one bike between them – these are the wheels they share as they play – so poor yet so happy! The squeals of delight are infectious!
They have no branded sporting equipment. This game is a plank of wood and the inside remains of what looks like a half-eaten rubber.
This boy is sick. He has no building blocks, so he plays with wood bits in the dirt.
This little girl has no cubby house; she is happy in an old boat. She is adorable. I wish I’d had a better camera to capture the smiles of these little angels.
My son joins in happily, as they play “knock ‘em down” with old food tins.
There is not a real toy anywhere. More tires form another game near the beach.
With one shoe, a toddler works to keep herself busy.
She has the most gorgeous big eyes. I’m impressed at the cleanliness of the village.
Small children sit with no blocks to play with – they only have an old tin and a bit of wood. Often they have one or no shoes. But the clothes are neat and clean.
The pig farmers stop me and ask if I can take their photograph. His child is barefoot, and his t-shirt is all ripped behind. The other man has a hole in the back of his boot. It’s a bit smelly with the pigs around here so we move on.
This man has very few teeth as he is perched on the window ledge.
He has no window, only a rusty tin house. My heart starts to break as I look at the little he has – so poor yet so happy. But he has a smile that lights up his face. They have no flashy homes. It must get dark inside when the sun goes down!
There are no expensive speedboats to go and catch their fish. they use kayaks often made from trees.
These people are mainly farmers, and a self-supporting village, where all share everything they are given. The wages – if you are lucky enough to have a job – are $1 AU / US an hour. Usually about $5 a day. Can you believe that?
There is only one nurse that visits the village. No doctor. Look at this home-made wheelchair.
Most clothes in this country are secondhand. The Indians run used clothing stores in the big towns, and sell clothes that look like the rejected stuff.
It comes from the rejected items from Australian thrift shops. You would be shocked – a stained top is about $12 FJ ($6.50 AU) – that is 3 hours wages. So look at their clothes. Most are what we would use as rags. They do not match.
Yet think of all the clothes you or your family have, and think of how many you really wear, and need.
Today, I ask you to look at all you have, your lovely home, and to appreciate what you have got. And to think about what you really have that gives you real joy.
Look out of YOUR window right now at what is around YOU and what do YOU see? Are YOU happy? With all YOU own, does it bring YOUR family joy?
Can you help us help them?
If you would like to help, we have found a second-hand shop in town where we can do a deal on bulk clothes for about $2.50 – $3 AU / US a piece.
We will need to hire a car for about $100 AU for the day, including the fuel, and we hope to fill the car with food, clothes, and shoes, and share with them. But we need many to help us. If you would like to be part of this venture, you can donate at the top of the page, or by Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even $5 or $10 makes a difference. It would be great if we could raise $500 or $1000, but we need to do it while we are here, in the next week or so.
Together we can make a small change in these little lives.
It would mean so much.
I am so proud of my seven-year-old son. He has changed so much in a few short weeks. He is not racist. He shares all he has. He is not selfish. He now gives all he does not need. And he is content, and happy.
Today – my heart was opened to the REAL needs of the world. I realize that we are no longer just on a holiday, or on a world adventure but we are also on a quest to help the needy.
Questions and Comments
- How do you define wealth?
- What things bring you joy and contentment in your heart?
- Please share your comments with us.