Australians are lucky. They have sun most of the year, beautiful beaches and can live an amazing lifestyle. Why would they ever want to leave?
My job over the 10 months of living in Australia was working as a fundraiser, on behalf of charities such as Plan international and Childfund. Raising funds for children living in poverty. Daily I would meet many people who just didn’t understand how lucky they were…. “We need to sort out our own country before we help others” or more shockingly…..”why would I want to help boat people?”.
They would winge about how they had to pay off their mortgage on their 3rd property or claim they couldn’t even feed themselves whilst holding onto a packet of cigarettes and a crate of beer.
And of course they truly believe they are on hard times, because they have never left their bubble that is Australia.
But is this an Australian lifestyle? Take a look at your own life. Did you wake up this morning annoyed that the milk was off in the fridge so you had to have a black coffee instead? Or that your hair dryer decided to give up so you couldn’t dry your hair? First world problems.
I am now in The Philippines, one of the countries I have been raising funds for. Lucas and I are privileged to be staying with one of his friends and his beautiful Filipino wife. It is a different world to anything I have experienced before.
Flying in to the airport itself, towers are left crumbling and unfinished, fever detectors as you enter the building to make sure you aren’t carrying any diseases and nearly every other person’s luggage is searched or screened before you leave.There is no middle class; people are either rich or extremely poor.
But is money the key to happiness?
Yesterday evening, Lucas and I were taken to visit a nearby slum. Homes were a mix of rocks, wood and concrete. There is no access to water and they have to travel to another slum to collect it. Rubbish lines the rocky paths as chickens and dogs run around.
The first thing I noticed was how happy the community was. How people were sitting around outside, children were playing with each other and there was an amazing family vibe. They were also very welcoming to us and the mothers were introducing their adorable babies to me. One mother had 2 severely disabled teenage sons.
When I think back to the street where my parents live, no one talks to anyone and children don’t play or knock for each other anymore. You would purposefully avoid having to hold a conversation with one of the old dears that lived a few houses down.
There was a young boy, Rafael who was 10 years old, that took a shine to us and showed us to a spot with the most incredible view. He told me he was in grade 1 at school, 3 years behind where he should be. He pointed to a house where a very rich man lived and said that he worked there tending to the gardens at the weekends and would earn 100 peso a day, roughly £1.40p, which he would spend on school supplies.
These people may not be rich with money, but they are definitely rich with happiness. This little boy was happy spending his hard earned money on school supplies rather than worrying if he had the latest model of iPhone.
For me, yesterday was a massive eye opener at how we, as privileged people, should be more greatful for the things we have and focus on building friendship and relationships around us to become truly happy.