Some days I wake up feeling guilty: guilty that in a few short weeks, I will be back in the States with all of the luxuries that come with living in a developed country and that the people that I’ve met here, the people that I’ve come to love, will probably never in their lifetime understand what it means to have an easy life in the way that I do.
Recently, the company I’m working for held an event for ending child labor, one of our biggest human rights projects that we’re involved with. Child labor is a very large issue in Ghana, especially in the rural, fishing communities. The parents of these children either do not understand why it is important for their child to have an education or they simply do not have the means to send their child to school instead of to work. But when I put it in my American ‘goggled’ perspective, having to actively prevent and fight against child labor seems like an issue of the past. But it’s not here, and that’s a problem.
You see, when you live in a developed country, you do not have to fight for your basic rights, at least from my experience. I will never understand what it’s like to go without clean water or a warm shower every day. I will never understand what it feels like to have my mother tell me that she just can’t afford my schooling this term so I can’t go. I will never understand living without electricity or running water. There are so many basic needs that people all around the world are having to find a way to live without and that’s simply a struggle that I will never understand because I’ve never had to.
While I feel blessed and grateful to be born where I was in the world and to have the financial means to travel and see the other cultures and ways of life, I still feel an overwhelming amount of guilt for the people who will never experience an ‘easy’ life. For the people who will struggle day in and day out to put rice on the table for their hungry children. For the children who are told in Primary 2 that they can no longer get an education but need to work on a fishing boat. For the endless amounts of people who have no choice but to beg and sleep on the streets because they can afford nowhere else to go. I feel guilty that I will never understand their struggle. But more importantly, I feel guilty that they will never know what it feels like not to struggle.