Saturday, October 11, 2008

I am Sam

No, not me.

Sam is the name of the man from Kenya I met today. We were both waiting our turn to see the doctor (regular check-up for me, he was getting a prescription for vitamins).

Sam used to manage a farm cooperative in his country. From what I gathered, he had a comfortable life. He has a wife and a son. His family has some properties.

Sam is very tall and very thin. He looks like what I imagine an African warrior might look like.

He is in the Philippines as a volunteer for an international organization. He is based in Agusan to share his expertise with a local group.

Why would a Kenyan leave his country to do volunteer work in the Philippines?

He said his former job exposed him to the inequalities of the system. Big business was getting the big bucks. The farmers didn’t get much. He couldn’t do much to change the system in his country because he was so much a part of it.

So, he left and ended up here. He wants to do good. He wants to share his knowledge so that the system he is so familiar with ends up working for the farmers. He plans to go back home after his posting in the Philippines.

He will apply whatever knowledge and experience he gains here to make changes there.

He has good intentions. He is ready and willing to do the hard work. He wants to do more. But change is slow. The people are different. The culture is different. Even the food is different. He has not been eating well (hence the trip to Manila to see the doctor). He spends a lot of time attending long and rambling meetings.

What is a man to do?

He told me that he could be frustrated and depressed. But, he chooses not to. He knew, before coming here, that it would be difficult. He knew it would be different. But different doesn’t have to be bad. He is learning. He is adjusting. He sees the small incremental changes.

He is teaching himself to appreciate rather than complain.

His journey has taken him here. He will make the most of it.

What a great guy Sam is.

No, I am not Sam. But, maybe someday when I grow up, I can be.

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