Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Story of Giving

Today as I chatted with a coworker of mine who was recently expatriated to Algeria for a long-term construction project, she told me about one of her latest experiences. Truth be told she’s been there barely a week and already has a plethora of stories to tell – everything from the prohibition of bikinis on the public beaches to the military escort that accompanies them each day. This time, however, she told me of a simple exchange between her and the construction office’s cleaning woman. My coworker casually commented to the cleaning woman that she looked pretty with henna painted on her feet; the very next day the woman arrived with a gift of all the necessary tools and paints for my friend to decorate her own feet. This coming from a woman who perhaps earns in a month what my friend earns in a day.* Who works 18 hour days cleaning floors and quite possible lives, at least by our standards, in poverty. And yet she still manages to give a gift to an almost complete stranger. The lesson in giving and friendships and respect is an important one.

*My friend filled me in on the financial data, too…Due to the special circumstances surrounding living and working in Northern Africa, expat employees receive approximately 2,5 times their gross salary (think in the range of 5-8,000€/month). The skilled construction workers on the site earn roughly 100€ a month and the local engineers pull in about 400€. Imagine what the cleaning staff must make...

1 comment:

JustMe said...

That is such a great story.
I hope she continues a friendship with this woman.