A chicken for your thoughts

I glanced at the front page of the newspaper, and there was a woman whose child is a student in my class. She was wearing a headscarf standing in Afghanistan talking to a woman whom she'd helped start a chicken farm. It turns out she's a 9/11 widow who decided to do something for the widows of that country with some of the money she received in settlements after her husband's death. Wow. I was humbled, not only that she'd turned the other cheek so magnificently but also that I didn't even know any of this about her life. Here we'd been chitchatting all year about families and kids and vacations, and yet she'd kept mum about her tragedy and put on a wonderfully joyful face.

This made me think about myself, of course, and whether I would have been able to put aside my own grief and reach out to others in need. I don't know that I would have even thought of it, never mind done it. I'd like to think that I would, but in reality my sphere of empathy and sympathy tends to extend only to close family and friends. It's easy to say that there isn't time in our busy lives to do more, but the paper is full of examples that say otherwise.

These widows in Afganistan are in need in ways we can't even imagine in this country. There is a law there against women owning property, so if their husbands die, their houses are taken from them. They then have no choice but to move into caves with their children and send them out as servants in order to earn money to feed themselves. This program to which my student's mom contributed "a sizable donation" tries to offer them an alternative to what amounts to slavery for their children. That alternative is chicken farming. Why they can own chickens but not houses the article didn't say. In any case this woman went there to reassure herself that the money is helping and of course found that more help is needed.

I applaud her efforts to make the world a better place for her daughter and for all of our children. I hope her example will spur others, notably me, to make similar efforts in our own ways.

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