Those who know me know that I hold my brothers friends near and dear to my heart. Matthew passed away 7 years ago, but over the years my family and I still maintain a strong bond with his closest friends. Eyovo was Matthews’s best friend and I literally love him in the same likeness as I do my own siblings. I’ve watched him grow into such an admirable young man over the years . Mentally and physically he has become such a charm and has such an in-depth outlook on life. As an almost Pilot with proud Angolan roots, he has a humble balance in life and it shines through in each and every conversation we have.
Our most recent chat was a bit more serious and rather eye opening to say the least. Eyovo (or Yoyo as we call him) had just gotten back from Angola after a visit to his family. While in Angola, his parents who own a hotel in Huambo were given a task to feed 150 children a day. For those of you who don’t know, the 2016 Human development Index ranks Angola 149 out of 186 on the poverty scale, as poverty permeates the entire nation. Poverty in Angola is greater in rural areas, which contains 38.5 percent of the population. In fact, 94 percent of rural households are categorised as poor.
Yoyo and his family used fresh produce from their farm to cook up the meals. He willingly offered his assistance to go to the school to serve the prepped meals to the kids, but even though Angola is his hometown, Yoyo was unaware and saddened when he saw how poorly people in the rural areas lived.
The children lined up to collect their food. Once placed in their hands they’d look at him, look down at their plate of food and look back at him. The look on their faces made it seem as though they were confused about having so much food. Yoyo would reassure them by saying “it’s all yours”. Unwashed and barely clothed, one by one they’d sit on the floor, take a bite of their sandwich or whatever it was they had been served on the day, but instead of putting their food back on their plate, they’d place it on the sand. With dust flying around and children trampling on their food, they’d continue to eat as though it was the norm. Can you just imagine the amount of starvation and disease as a result of this behavior alone? They don’t know any better, so it would be unfair to even blame them.
There is one school in the rural area of Huambo, which 1500 children, aged 7 – 18 attend simultaneously. Not only is there an insufficient amount of teachers, but the children have no desks, stationery or books and the infrastructure is toxic. I understand fully that this is a global issue that needs the attention of the Government worldwide, but what I didn’t understand a few days ago before Yoyo visited me, was how so many people aren’t aware of these dreadful issues. Yoyo, enlightened me with a statement that I was very much blown away by. With despair in his eyes after explaining his story to me, he said,” At the same time that Social Media is connecting us, it is also making all those who are ‘forgotten’ really forgotten”.
And he couldn’t be more accurate!
Yes, Social Media connects us. It bridges the gap between us and loved ones who have immigrated; it keeps us abreast of the news and latest trends… But while it connects us in developed societies, it also makes us forget about those in underdeveloped areas.
We are so caught up in the virtual world that we forget about the world right in front of us.
While we stream YouTube for the latest trending videos, children are eating their food off the sand. When we comfortably go to the loo while chatting to our family members on WhatsApp others are dying from famine and disease due to unsanitary environments. When we sit at home, in front of the TV thinking about which selfie to post next, people are out there being forgotten.
I’m not trying to make you feel guilty, nor am I one to talk. I also do everything listed above and more. As a flawed human being I am, or rather, ‘was’ completely unaware that there’s more to life than my life alone. And I hope that after reading this you feel the same.
What do you think we should do to bridge the human divide caused by social media? Drop a comment below.