For Richer or Poorer

This was written by a beautiful young lady, Karlynn, after her first experience in Nepal. She went as one of my students the summer of 2002.


I am an American, my fellow American’s wouldn’t consider me wealthy, but at my current resident, I am of great prestige. I’ve always wanted that. Unfortunately, here in Nepal, money has a stench greater than the lack of.
A dark salesman tries to teach me a lesson. He waves his product and renders me guilty for not purchasing.
A flock of Tibetan women wave their thick heavily jeweled hands and flail their sharply accented English in a mad attempt to make the almighty buck.
A heard of children tug on my clothing “you have sweet?” Their soiled mouths cry out. I didn’t ask for this!
This was not in the brochure! I…I…didn’t ask for…for a lesson. Suddenly, I’m vowed to poverty, and it only cost me three easy payments of $999.99 and my youth pastors signature!
My windy weeps of worthless unwillingness register whining. “Oh Poor Me! Oh pity me! My pain is so great and that of the unbearable.”
OR sometimes I am too quick to judge. “I would never cheat stupid Americans out of their money.
OR I would teach my children manners.
OR I would be reluctant to…
Or – Or – Or…
I saw a starving child today. Not a poor dirty child, but a starving child. His little belly hung like that of a bloated pregnant woman’s. His face was crusted with sickness. His eyes were yellow, his fingernails were speckled. An urgency to get this kid some food came over me. But you can’t give a starving child blow pops and fruit snacks.
I found myself disgusted wit his mother. Why wasn’t she getting work? How did she get cigarettes but not food? Where is her husband?
But I’ve never had to survive the off-season, when tourism is low and rains are high. I’ve never had to sell cheap jewelry. I’ve never had to decide between cigarettes and food.
I didn’t ask for this! I didn’t want to learn a lesson! Not this lesson! I didn’t ask to get this knowledge – I didn’t know what I was trading!
And when I get back to my hometown, I’ll use this little trick I learned.
“Madame, Madame? You remember me? I have something for you. Come look. Looking free. We swap, yes?”
You give me your ignorance, and I’ll finally be rid of this knowledge.

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