Monday, April 14, 2008

Pain Amongst Joy

Today was a wonderful chance to enjoy Bengali New Year. To enjoy a large festival and smile with friends, but there is always something in this country that makes me think, and think deeply, about what it means to be rich.

As thousands of middle-income and upper-income Bangladeshis wandered the streets outside of Taize, in our little oasis we were enjoying a typical meal of rice, shobji and dhal. Brother Guillaume, face painted and all, had enjoyed a morning out with some of the local children he spends much of his time with. We were all sitting around eating and talking, when someone beside me asked one of the boys from the street where his shirt was, he answered very matter of factly, "I only have one". That comment found its way down into my heart in a way that few others have recently. How many children do I see running around shirtless, and I naively thought it was because they were hot, but how many of those children only have one shirt, and they can't afford to wear it everyday or they won't have any shirts. As I walked around the mela outside, looking at the fancy sharis and hand-painted shirts, the fine embroidery and expensive fabrics, my mind wandered back, again and again to the little boy, shirtless, eating his rice. In the midst of the joy, it is important to keep grounded in the reality, and today I had that ability.


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