For day 17 of our 31 days of compassion, please give a warm welcome to my husband Andy. Today, he is writing to share his experience with and response to the 17th challenge of compassion. I could not do his words justice, so I will let him share his heart with you.
My name is Andy, and in light of today being the international day for the eradication of poverty, I have a question for you. Can you survive on $1.25 a day? I did not think it was possible until I played this game. This is a great way to learn more about the decisions that those living in extreme poverty need to make. Not every choice made will be right, and I found that 90 percent of the decisions I had to make were moderately difficult. My eyes were opened to the conditions in which these people live, and their circumstances are more difficult than even I previously realized. It became apparent as I played the game that there are two kinds of decisions to be made—practical, and ethical or moral. I found that the moral and ethical choices I had to make were easier than the daily life decisions, because I was more motivated to make ethical choices by my family’s dependence on my survival.
When in the game I was assaulted on my way home from work, I had to make the choice to be tested for HIV/AIDS or simply hide the fact of my assault. I decided to be tested regardless of the social and monetary cost, because my family depended on my existence. If I were living alone with no children, my consideration of being tested would be less of a concern.
While playing the game was a simple action and could not compare to living out these scenarios in real life, it reminded me that showing compassion to those living in poverty would relieve the burden of their decisions. In the game, when I had to remove my son from school due to the high cost of his required uniform, my stress level increased and my health decreased by 10 percent. I could physically feel the stress and glimpse the reality for this family. Later in the game, my son was sponsored through Compassion International, covering the cost of his uniform and school tuition. I was shocked and relieved. Moreover, I was grateful for my son’s sponsor, because their help allowed my stress to decrease and I could focus on other matters. While my future may not have seemed glamorous, knowing that my son was sponsored gave me hope of success where there used to be a lack of purpose and will to live. That one decision made by someone, a complete stranger from across the world, gave me the motivation I needed to make future decisions.
In response to this experience, the Lord has reminded me of the importance of telling someone they are worthy of living a successful life through God’s unconditional love. I survived on $1.25 a day, but it was only by God’s grace and the generosity of others. How about you? Do you think you can survive on $1.25 a day? Did you play this game? If so, what has the Lord taught you as a result of this experience and glimpse into the life and decisions of someone living in poverty?