Wednesday, June 27, 2007

In an Atmosphere of Despair and Scarcity: "Let there be Light"

In an Atmosphere of Despair and Scarcity: “Let there be Light”
Inspired by: The world’s “Forgotten Souls”
By: Nasir Al-Amin

“She needs…. light. I just remember seeing her and she had this look like there was this black cloud over her. She needs light, she needs light in her life.” I replied, 'the world needs light.'

My friend’s comment stuck in my mind, but more importantly the words really resonated in my soul, as I’ve seen that look on a child’s face that she was referring to. Additionally, it also made me reflect on the titles of articles I posted on the blog recently:

“Poverty drives children to work for armed groups”
“Concern over school drop-out rates”
“I have to scrounge around rubbish bins to feed my children”
“Our mother sold us for $60”
“Iraqi Refugees turn to the Sex Trade”

These articles provide insight on the plight of the world’s most marginalized populations. Regardless if we are referring to the city slums of Iraq, Tanzania or Ethiopia, these struggles and daily conditions transcend geographical boundaries and ethnicities, as poverty and its subsequent symptoms (child labor, commercial sex work/prostitution, high rates of school drop-out and infant mortality, hunger and homelessness) fail to discriminate. Both poverty and its symptoms, diminish light indiscriminately. The statistical references for this are enumerable, yet for me what is so profound is the following words of one woman engaged in the daily struggle to provide light to Zimbabwe’s vulnerable and underserved:

“The warmth of the people’s heart is slipping away.”

So that’s what my friend’s comment meant to me: it was a glance beyond the mere quantifiable reality, towards a deeper look at the qualitative effect of deprivation on one’s inward state. Some would dismiss this concept or focus on the inner state, but anyone who has worked with poverty-stricken children will attest to the aura of optimism and hope that radiates from the smile of a child that recognizes that all she has in life is her breath/life and with that she is content. That child’s smile is contagious, so much so that it can left the spirits of the next child who has a grim look of despair and/or in the words of my friend: as if a “black cloud” is hovering over her.

Faced with such suffocating realities as poverty, child labor, and commercial sex work it is obvious how a destitute girl in the slums of Addis could fall into hopelessness and view herself as just one girl amongst millions of “forgotten souls.” However, the purpose of ALIF and humanity in general is to provide that light for those who have been swept away by the current of despair.

Light fosters perspective and perseverance to the individual while on the path to fulfilling their life’s journey, their path to true happiness, which is in essence, is the process of actualizing their vision for their life. Light renews that intrinsic sense of purpose, faith and optimism—and shockingly enough, light engenders a sense of gratitude in an atmosphere of despair and scarcity. Light is the “poetry of the soul” that fuels the human spirit; a spirit that when awakened is unyielding!

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