Think before you label a country

Dear Mr. President,

Based on your recent comments, it is clear you haven’t met many people from s*** hole countries, and I’d like to introduce you to a few friends my husband Kevin and I met when living in Tanzania.

Jenny, whom I consider a surrogate granddaughter, calls me Bebe. Her daddy drives a taxi and her mother sews all day. Jenny’s mom does the cooking over an open fire in her front yard — her home would probably fit into one of your hotel bathrooms.

Jenny is a giggler and chatterer. She loves sparkly things, and she asks a million questions a minute, just like any child her age here in America.

Her family has something that you’re missing — they are overflowing with love for each other and respect for their fellow man. Although they will probably have beans and rice for dinner tonight, they live in a state of thankfulness for what they have.

Mr. Mugoo and his wife, daughter and mother-in-law live in their partially completed house. Every two weeks when he gets paid, he buys a bag of cement to shape more bricks to finish the next room of their dream home. His home office is an old reclaimed school desk under a shady tree.

His youngest child Asifewe reminds me of my own American daughter. She’s a tomboy, most comfortable in jeans, but she has a soft side too, and loves to cuddle and play with her kitten.

Others welcomed us, fed us, and explained how things worked in their country. They paid our utility bill when our electricity was turned off because we didn’t pay at the proper office.

They care for each other and respect each other, not based on the color of skin or one’s bank balance. They are content with much less, and live debt-free — if they can’t pay for it, they don’t buy it. They laugh and cry and work at overcoming some of the same hurdles we do.

Before you label a place, actually visit with your eyes wide open and get to know the people who live there. The folks you talk about are real people with dreams, who work hard to make those dreams come true. They and their dreams are really not so different from the American dream.

The people of Tanzania gave us much more than we could ever give back to them.

Celesta Pyle