Have you ever reflected on an opportunity that you passed by or didn’t value? When opportunity knocks, how is it that we don’t move heaven and earth to open that door? How do we evaluate the value of an opportunity at any given moment in time? And why is it that sometimes we only can realize the value of said opportunity when looking back. 20/20 in hind sight only?
I live in Guatemala, the land of few/scarce opportunities. Open doors to a better future are rare for the average/non-connected folks. Opportunity for a higher education, better nutrition/health, a living wage, a safe neighbourhood, or a domestic violence-free relationship are hopes yet to be discovered. They are an unknown land that the poor have only heard stories of.
If someone offered an education to the children of a farmer in the highlands of Guatemala, this opportunity could be passed up, because the value of education has not been experienced and acknowledged – it is heresay. If someone offered a pickup truck to the same farmer, it probably would be valued more than the education because he can see the immediate benefits and culturally it is a sign of “getting ahead”.
What I value, like access to information, the privilege of travel, a meaningful vocation, a wonderful, loving relationship and a healthy diet are not high on the list of folks in the Village of Chivarabal. What is valued is survival, getting by and perhaps the hope of a better house.
We have had more than a few mothers with children, living in extreme poverty, pass on the opportunity to come and live at Project Somos. It was hard to get my head around it, but then it dawned on me. The value of the opportunity is not immediately visible, it has some tangibles, but also some sacrifices. What I consider a valuable opportunity for someone else is not necessary valuable for them in the context of who they are and where they live.
We continue to maintain the door of opportunity open at Project Somos for those mothers with children who see it as valuable. But I can say it is very difficult to see families not seize a chance at Somos and return to their extreme situations, where there are very few opportunities to improve the basic needs of life.