By John Longhurst
Compared to life for many people in the developing world, most Canadians have it pretty easy.
Want water? Turn on the tap. Hungry? Open the fridge. Cold in winter? Turn up the heat.
Because these things are so normal, it’s easy to forget how special they are—and how blessed we are to take them for granted.
Remembering these blessings is made s a little easier for staff at Canadian Foodgrains Bank because of people like Lieketseng Phooko of Lesotho.
Lieketseng—also known as Keke—spent the last ten months with us as an intern through the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) International Volunteer Exchange Program.
While in Canada, she travelled across the country making presentations about food and hunger issues in Lesotho to schools, churches and other groups. Altogether, she spoke almost 100 times to over 6,000 people.
During her travels, Keke made many new friends, always expressing her appreciation for the warm hospitality and generosity of Foodgrains Bank supporters.
“I was blessed to visit so many people,” she says, adding that she really enjoyed visiting farms.
One thing that always struck her, though, was how easy life is in Canada—compared to life back in Lesotho.
Take water, for example.
“Back home, we need to walk to a communal tap to get water,” she says. “Depending on how many people are in line, it can take up to 30 minutes to fill our containers. If the tap is dry, we have to walk to a spring—that can take an hour.”
Then there’s all the food we can eat; going to restaurants was particularly eye-opening.
“There were so many choices on the menu,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do.”
In Lesotho, the diet for most of the population doesn’t vary much. “We eat cornmeal three times a day,” she says.
In winter, homes in Lesotho are cold, she adds. “Homes were so warm in Canada.”
Even though the differences made an impression, she will take away many other memories of her time in Canada—especially the friendships she developed.
“People in Canada are so friendly,” she says, adding she was also impressed by how willing people were to learn more about her country, and also by how they gave to the Foodgrains Bank to assist people in Lesotho and other parts of the developing world.
“People are very generous,” she says.
Of her assignment, she says : “I really liked it a lot because it challenged me. I learned how to present in front of many people. I learned lots of things I will take back with me to Lesotho.”
After her return, Keke will work for Growing Nations Trust, a conservation farming organization supported by the Foodgrains Bank.
“I pray that the Lord will use me for good,” she says.
For people at the Foodgrains Bank, that prayer has already been answered. Keke’s infectious enthusiasm for the work of helping farmers in Lesotho improve their lives left a positive and powerful impression on many.
At the same time, her presence reminded those of us who worked with her how blessed we are—and how lucky we are to be able to share our blessings with others.
John Longhurst directs the Resource & Public Engagement Department at the Foodgrains Bank.