Tuesday, 7 September 2010

of camels and straws, of mice and blankets

today maithri has posted a story of a swazi woman, disabled to the point where she must crawl to move around, whose life has been dramatically improved by filling the holes in her home to prevent rodent entry, a mouse baiting program, a new mattress and a new blanket. please take the trouble to read and absorb it here.
it struck me that sometimes it takes the simplest things to make a considerable difference to somebody's life. maithri (or any other observer) might have hoped to restore mobility, or to move the woman to a more comfortable home. in our rich and comfortable western world we might do these things almost by force but in swaziland the very simplest course of action has been taken and the woman concerned has testified to the way these simple actions have transformed her life from one wracked with pain to a life which is pain free.
sydney is a long long way from swaziland but the principle remains: what is the simplest action i can take to improve things for this person (or indeed, for myself)
when a situation seems impossible, unfixable, complicated, overwhelming there will probably be a simple action to improve it and just as a single straw broke the camels back, maybe the camel will be saved if we remove one small straw.


  1. i really liked my last line there so i didnt put my question in the post but i wonder, do my readers have any personal stories of a small action that made a huge difference?

  2. Thank you for your compassionate presence in this world my friend. Love what you wrote here about the simple things making the real difference... this is exactly how i see it also,

    Much love, M

  3. hi m,
    i just hauled myself out of bed to make sure i had given you a link to this post, only to find you had beaten me :)

    as i wrote the post i was aware that financial constraints would probably dictate your actions but i wondered whether there might also be a different value system which influences the way a case such as this one is handled?

    thanks for taking the time to drop by

  4. Very true that instead of the grand and dramatic measures we immediately think of, a situation can often be improved by something very simple and easily overlooked.

    I think of the gadgets made for old people and the disabled, enabling them to do such basic things as turn on a tap or unscrew a lid. They can make a huge difference to someone's everyday life.

  5. Spesh,
    thanks for posting the link, as I wouldn't have got back to the wonderful Maithri. I don't really know what to say in response....

  6. Muhammed Yunus the Bangladeshi economist has achieved a lot by doing a lot toward creating micro businesses in Bangladesh. This as I understand is principally among womenfolk there. The whole scheme has empowered many women economically I understand. I don't know if this fits the parameters of this post's discussion or not.

    Teaching people to read or literacy also empowers people I believe.

    The bio ear is fabulous allowing many to hear for the 1st time.It's not simple though I admit.

  7. nick,
    yes, i was thinking of things like that.
    every little scrap of independence is valuable. only today there were modifications made to the machine at work and suddenly i cant assemble/disassemble it alone. it has made me feel less competent and i wonder if management will start to view me less favourably.
    hopefully, though, when everything seats in i'll be okay again...

  8. pete!
    it's just nice to see you here.
    and maybe it'll get you thinking and you'll get back to me :)

  9. i wrote about this before on a post but i will cover it again>>>>i used to walk by homeless people on temple square in slc and one fellow always caught my eye... HE WANTED MONEY, AND OF COURSE EVERYONE NEVER GAVE HIM ANY CAUSE BOOOZE was probalby his aim>>>but i went up to him and said if you will follow me , i will buy you a bowl of soup>>>and sureprisenly he said yes>>>so we walked into the lunch counter at walgreen drug and while he ate his soup i talked his ear off and even afrter the soup, he told me about his wife and kids, and home town, and life which at times was pretty normal

  10. dad,
    i wasnt thinking of micro economics when i wrote the post but it fits the topic. the difference made in thousands of lives by tiny loans is amazing.

    the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world

  11. putzy,
    i'm really pleased that you took the time to do that. so often beggars/ the homeless are invisible and being invisible is not nice

  12. At my old job I encountered homeless people regularly begging for money. I felt so guilty when I didn't give it to them. One day someone suggested I keep food in the car for them. So I started keeping granola bars or cereal bars and I would give them food. One day, I gave the guy all the change in my console and he told me God Bless you. The change amounted to about $2.70. So yes, small gifts help.

  13. Small successes can give one a sense of power that big problems often take away.

  14. Maybe the camel needs a beer, that usually helps me.

  15. bob,
    how much beer would a camel drink?

  16. cece
    sometimes a person needs the gift, sometimes they just need to be seen.
    he knew you saw

  17. snow,
    yep, a sense of control helps lots of times


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