One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my life is gratitude. For me it creates a more joyous life as I appreciate the world around me—the simple things like a sunny day, flowers I see outside the window of my office, friends and family, simply getting up knowing I’ll have hot water for a shower. What a wonderous thing gratitude is. It is transformative; it opens my heart to goodness and gives me a greater context for the events of my life. It makes my life better.
I have learned more and more gratitude since working with women in Uganda and seeing how different our lives are.
The average woman in Uganda has no running water, no shower or bathtub, no electricity, no indoor plumbing. They walk everywhere as they are too poor to afford even a bicycle for transportation and live in areas without public transportation. They don’t own jewelry, in most cases, not even a wedding ring. In my fourteen trips to Uganda, I’ve never seen one of our 1100 borrowers wearing a watch.
Nearsighted or farsighted? They don’t wear glasses as they’ve never been to an optometrist and couldn’t afford glasses if needed. Their lives revolve around the very basics of life—how to feed their families, send their children to school, afford shoes for their children, afford health care when needed. This all helps me recognize how much I have to be grateful for, not just material things but the absence of stress around the simple necessities of life freeing me to do more important things.
And yet, I’m grateful for the smiling faces of the Ugandan women; to connect with them on a human level, to understand their lives, their needs, their joy, their gratitude for our help; to share a laugh with them.
I am enormously grateful that I can help ease someone else’s life; that I can help them help themselves and set them on the road out of poverty. Grateful that I can empower them to be the women they want to be and deserve the opportunity to be.
I’m so grateful that so many of you recognize what a gift it is to reach out and help others. This work is a blessing and I’m very grateful to share it with you and that motivates me to continue this work.