I Think You Are Rich

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What does being rich mean to you? As I watched this Ugandan farmer proudly open his doors to our group of 28 people and show us his home, his farm and his livestock I was struck by how emotionally rich he is.

He sat on the second story of the goat house he had built posing for pictures with his goat and he was as proud and happy as I’ve ever seen anyone.

He was the recipient of two pigs through a program called Project Grace which is operated by Just Like My Child Foundation.

Project Grace helps members of a small community in Uganda who are HIV positive but are being treated. The program gives them training to run a livestock business which allows them to feed their family and make some income. This fellow is one of the programs great success stories and had turned his pigs into a farm with goats and pigs. His family was making money now and he was able to plant all kinds of food in their yard.

His house was modest – little furniture, less than 500 square feet, no running water, and a family of at least 6 were living there. He didn’t have tv or even electricity and yet I felt like he had everything he wanted. Certainly the smile on his face made it feel like he had a great life that he was happy living. He had his health, his family, a business and a home.

Financially he is very poor by our standards. Most people in Uganda are. I think someone said that 80% of the population lives on $1/day. I don’t have a source for that but still … the number was very low!

I don’t know exactly what the farmer is making. Based on some of the numbers that were explained to us he is probably making about $70-$100/month (although he has plenty of food to eat now and his income continues to grow as his farm does) but emotionally he was one of the richest people I had ever met.

As I return home I can’t help but think about how much we have to learn from the people in that community in Uganda.

We have so many luxuries in North America that I think we’ve become so spoiled. Rich to us means first class flights, expensive dinners, fancy cars and big houses. Rich to this farmer and the many people we met in Africa is the ability to give their children an education, keep them healthy, clothed and sheltered. Rich is having clean drinking water so half the day isn’t spent walking to fill up their jug of water to wash clothes, making meals and bath.

What is rich to you?

My guess is that if you redefine it you are already very rich or pretty darn close. I know I am.