Thrown between worlds

“Welcome to poverty,” Bobo said as we stepped off the pirog in Demeth.
“Don’t say that,” I said.
“But it’s true. Look around yourself.”
The houses were small and mostly made of clay, there was no asphalt or concrete. The paths between the houses were of stamped mud and sand, and everywhere small fires were being lit as the darkness wrapped itself around the little village. It’s from here my friend in Atar comes. Suddenly I could understand what the job at the auberge really has given him; a well paid job that changed his life. I could now see why the capital is flooded by people looking for a job and I could see what it means to only have each other. I understand that many of them want to be somewhere else, but I was also struck by the beauty in their way of living.

Bobo’s family welcomed me with open arms and we sat down on the big mat beside the cooking-tent. The neighbors had a small square television from where concerts were played loud; Tiken Jah was performing. “Ouvert le frontiers” (open up the borders) echoed throughout the neighborhood and we all sang with.

Five days later I was in a big house in Nouakchott with a swimming-pool and a garden filled of embassy-people and Europeans with nice titles. On tables there were buffets with hummus, guacamole, bread, nuts and salads. On the other side a man served drinks, all from wine to coke, water and vodka. We danced to Spanish music and I couldn’t help thinking about mama Fati and grandma’ Korka where we stood on a row, dancing to the choreograph to some old Spanish little tune.

To be thrown between the worlds like that tears on my mental health. The night after the party I hardly slept at all. In moments I feel hopelessly helpless. I’m born in Sweden: one of the best countries in the world. Still I have so many friends who complain. Never are they happy with that they’ve got and always searching something new. As my friend Guiomar said: “everyone should go here at least once in life. Everyone should see the other reality. The poverty.”

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3 thoughts on “Thrown between worlds

  1. It is very hard to reconcile our lives in the modern world with the poverty in 3rd world countries. I’ve never visited a place like this before but even just reading about it makes me realize how silly & unbalanced many of us are with regards to our own problems. They pale in comparison to what millions of others go through for survival every day. And yet from what I’ve seen & read many poor people in these countries are sometimes more happy & content with themselves & their lives than us that have every modern convenience at our fingertips. People are so trapped in their own minds & their own problems that I think they miss the big picture of life.

  2. I cannot agree more with you. I have now had a brake in Sweden for a few months, and it is so easy to close ones eyes and forget because it easily gets too much. I try to tell people I meet about my experiences, encourage them to travel, to be aware and to make decisions that will help the world.
    Buy fair trade, organic and not eat what comes from the other side of the world.

    Maybe if we know that our decisions help other people, even though we never see them, we can find happiness and content within ourselves. At least it could be a step.

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