4 Minutes | Teen Ink

4 Minutes

November 24, 2008
By Anonymous

I was just staring out our sixteen man van, feeling miserable. I watched the fields of extraordinary flowers slowly drift by as we passed them. I thought to myself that it was weird that the natives considered them as weeds. The sun was blazing even though it was winter for South Africa and I was crabby that day. I missed my friends, my house, and our 2 dogs. I thought about how I wanted to get out of this stupid van and I wanted to go home. I had been traveling for 3 weeks! And I still had a week left! A whole month that I had missed. I know I was being really ungrateful this trip after all it had been an amazing gift from my grandpa and my step-grandma and I was getting to see new parts of the world. But a whole month... geeze I was missing the fair, just hanging out by my pool with my friends, and biking into town to get ice cream at warnies. That was when it happened. We started passing the houses.

These houses were not normal! For me. They were as small as my parents bathroom (which was bigger than their bedroom but still not big enough for a house.) when the families inside heard our van passing by, they all rushed to the hole in their wall which they used as their window. Their chocolate brown faces were all very different some were old and worn others were very young and curios what that big thing was that was passing by. This sight alone was very disturbing to me. Sure I knew things were bad in the world. That there were places where everyone was in poverty and had no money or food or home but seeing it in real life with my own eyes just made it all so real. I could feel the sting of tears in the corners of my eyes but I held myself together.

After passing house after house we finally were slowly rolling by the last one. This one had to be the smallest and most rundown out of all of them, it was different though this house had a huge bush of the most gorgeous flowers outside of it. My grandpa wanted to stop and look at it. So I went to the closest window and looked at the tiny little flowers lost in my own little world once again.

The family inside the house noticed that we had stopped and they were staring intensely, watching every move we made, not having a clue what we were going to do. All of a sudden a little boy who must have been only about three came running out of the house looking pretty determined. He was dressed in a dirty T-shirt and a pair of to small shorts, he had no shoes. He was as dark as milk chocolate and he was as skinny as a rope. It sounded as if he was yelling for food to us and my parents were about to open the van door to give him something when my grandpa said it was better to not give him anything because then he would expect to get food from everyone that went by.
Those moments couldn’t have even lasted 4 minutes. That was when it hit home for me. I was in the back of the van so no one could see me, but driving away and seeing that little boy standing in the road, tears rolling down his little sunken cheeks. That was what made me start to cry. Sure I have had my share of seeing poverty in more countries than any of my friends but that little boy had changed me forever.

I had all these questions running through my head like how could we let this happen? How come I am so fortunate and these people aren’t? why does our country bask in the light with most of the riches and homes and let this go on in another country? Why is everything so confusing?

The rest of the trip went well but those questions kept on floating around in my head. I went along with a new attitude and perspective. I don’t think I will ever take what I have for granted again. Why? Well because every time I start to I see that little boy in my mind I think about how lucky I am. I have experienced many things that a lot of people never will, I have a wonderful home, I have pets, I have a providing and loving family, I get to go to school everyday and get an education, and I have great friends. That list is just the start of it, and all that truly is a gift!

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.