When I go home to North America, I am simply overwhelmed by the amount of choices. It can take me 20 minutes of staring at a menu because there are just too many options to handle. One thing I’ve adapted to while working in a third world country is there’s not always a lot of choice. In Haiti, we get a lot of donations and people are used to taking what’s been given to them. You take what you can afford or what you can find.
The other night we had an ice cream party with the Hope House kids. We called them up individually and they each got to choose what they wanted on their sundaes. Chocolate. Caramel. Strawberries. Whip cream. Sprinkles. They got to pick whatever their little hearts desired. Their eyes were huge in childlike wonder. And as all 15 of them sat watching a movie, in the semi silence of spoons scraping bowls, it reminded me of how they are all so different. Each and every one of them. And how very important it is tocelebratetheir differences.
Having the power to choose is a luxury. In our first world thinking, we grow up asking our children what they want to be. Usually it changes with the child’s interest as they grow older. As a five year old, I wanted to be a ballerina, a garbage man or an elephant. Definitely some top career choices right there. But what I’ve noticed here is that when you ask children what they want to be, their decision is based on stability. On what a good job is or what their parents would consider honorable–teachers, nurses, doctors.
A small percentage of the world gets to choose what they want based on what they like but the majority of the world has to make choices based on survival. When we’re helping people, remember that everyone has a name. The Lord created all of us to be unique and different in our own ways and no one grows up wanting to be a statistic. Like the children’s song goes: we are PRECIOUS in His sight. It’s important to give people the power to decide for
themselves–even when it’s something small, like the color of a shirt or ice cream toppings. The power of choice gives dignity.And dignity is one of the best gifts you can ever give.
"Dignity. It means a belief in oneself, that one is worthy of the best. It means that what I have to say is important, and I will say it when it’s important for me to say it. Dignity really means that I deserve the best treatment I can receive. And that I have the responsibility to give the best treatment I can to other people."Maya Angelou