As the Team journeys through Africa, we have come into contact with many individuals with important roles in their communities. Mary Burton and Nelson Mandela come to mind quickly because they have received media attention and recognition for their accomplishments, but there are many other unsung Africans who play vital roles - farmers, factory workers, cooks, vegetable vendors… In this Making a Difference, we would like to focus on the people and work that are integral to a functioning community.
Let's begin with some brainstorming. What are the essentials that human beings need? It may seem like we can't live without fast food restaurants, television, Nintendo, the mall, the Internet, and the telephone, but lets break it down to the basics. Food and water probably top the list. Then, there's shelter, communication, and sanitation. Where should teaching and medical care fit in? Laughter? Is entertainment important? Athletics? Technology? Once you determine the necessities, jot down the people responsible for providing these things in your life. Is one job more important than another, for instance a plumber or a lawyer or a mail person? Do you think they are all equally important? Are they equally respected?
People do different types of work for a variety of reasons. They might have a talent, learn a skill, choose a lucrative profession, work in a family business or just fall into something. Does one job pay more than another? Absolutely! But what is the correlation between the job function, salary and respect? Do you think people are fairly compensated? Are there other forms of compensation besides financial remuneration? You can Make a Difference by rethinking who is valued in society and why they are valued. Do you know your garbage man? How about the person who mows the playing fields at your school? Make a point to introduce yourself this week to someone who is doing you and your community a service. Ask them what they like about their jobs, what they dislike, and let them know you appreciate their good work.
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