Komang, our driver, was happy to talk at length about Hinduism in Bali. Having spent the previous ten days on our annual visit to our family in Bali, we were on our way to the town of Ubud for a night of self-indulgent calm, in a hotel we know well, where our room overlooks the paddy fields and at night on the balcony we are treated to an amazing cacophony of frogs and toads.
As Komang talked, what became clear was his quiet commitment to his community, his family and his faith. He described some of the many Hindu ceremonies that take place in Bali in the course of the year. His life was simple and respectful; his gentle manner was a delight and we hung on his every word. It was a conversation to savour.
Our closest friends in Kenya display a very similar set of values. They live for their family, their community and their Christian faith. Many times we have seen evidence of these values in their daily interactions with others: kindness to strangers, sharing meals with unexpected guests, giving to others when they have little themselves. And their lives are characterised by a similar calm joyful compassion.
So……….. all that stuff that we in the “developed” world chase after and aspire to- all those possessions that we have which our friends in Kenya are lacking- : it doesn’t seem to bring the happiness for which we all yearn. Yet Komang in Bali and Irine in Kenya seem so much more content even though life is materially tough and fragile on a daily basis.
Our charity is called Education Exchange: one vital exchange goes like this: we help people in Kenya climb out of poverty while they challenge us to re-think our priorities, to move from a preoccupation with possessions to a focus on people.