Yesterday our class began role playing going to the market. This was in preparation of actually going to the market today as a class assignment. First of all I should describe the market place itself. It’s a big dirt area, probably about an acre with all types of old tarps spread out on the ground. Down the middle of the market are some structures that sellers are able to tie their tarps above them for shade. The outer part of the market has non food items such as shoes and clothes. I need to be a little more descriptive about the shoes and clothes, they are all used shoes and clothes. There are no new items here. There must have been thousands of shoes, I can’t imagine where they all came from.

I took a moment and watched the buyers as they went through looking for a matching pair and I realized they are just as happy to get a used pair of shoes as we are to get new shoes. And, they won’t be getting a credit card bill at the end of the month because you don’t use credit cards here!

After exploring the outer part of the market, I had to take a deep breath and find the courage to complete my class assignment. I had to purchase banana’s and could only speak Kiswahili to do so. Now it wouldn’t have been too bad if I could have just walked up to the person, pointed to what I wanted, and paid. But the lesson wasn’t just to purchase banana’s, I had to negotiate the price. So, I found myself being really stretched!

Here I was on my first assignment to have a conversation in Kiswahili which is a huge stretch. Then I was required to negotiate a price which was already too low. I don’t know how to negotiate, I only know how to smile and say sure and hand over the money. Yet, I am happy to report that I followed through and purchased 30 of the little sweet banana’s for 1000 shilings which is about $1.30.

An additional purchase had to be made for a plastic bag to put the banana’s in. These bags are sold by very poor young boys probably 11 or 12 years old. I must admit it is a struggle for me here in Africa to see so many hungry, hurting children and not be able to help. I tried to purchase my plastic bag from a boy who seemed to have lost hope. It is easy to tell which ones these are because of their faces.

Once the task was completed I walked around and enjoyed the people. This market was full of hundreds of people and they were all happy. You would have thought they all belonged to the same family.

When someone comes to this market, they arrive by walking or by taking a small van. These old small vans normally seat 8, but you don’t see one that has less than 10 or 12 in them. Not only the people but all of the goods they purchased at the market.

I watched one group in particular trying to make everything fit. The van was already over loaded, but everyone inside the van was trying to make room for those who still needed to get in. Wouldn’t they be in for a shock to come to America where we all have our own cars and most often there is just one person inside. (Well that is of course unless you’re my children, then your vehicle is full with all of their precious children!)

For the women who do not have the money which I think is about 10 cents to ride in one of these vans, they bring a basket and once they’ve completed their shopping someone helps them put the basket on top of their head and they walk many miles back home.

So,the next time you go out and get in your heated/cooled car remember to thank God for where you live and what you have. Next time you go into the grocery store where you have the best of everything to choose from, remember to thank God for where you live and what you have. In the morning when you get up and feed your children a good nutritious breakfast and dress them in clothes that no one has ever worn but them, remember to thank God for where you live and what you have. As you watch your children get on the bus, or walk towards the school from parent drop off, remember to thank God that your child doesn’t have to spend the day begging people to buy a plastic bag so they can eat

Lets remember the children here and throughout the world who are hungry and hurting and most often alone. Who will be the one to come and buy the next plastic bag?

Love to all,

Joy Breedlove

Missionary – East Africa