OPINION: Gratitude creates a change in attitude

Raelene HallMidwest Times
Stallholders have to be physically fit at Green Market Square in Cape Town.
Camera IconStallholders have to be physically fit at Green Market Square in Cape Town. Credit: Supplied

I have just returned from an amazing trip to Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Some of the incredible experiences included seeing the Big Five animals in game reserves, actually patting a lion and hand feeding elephants.

Needless to say, the latter two involved animals familiar with the human touch.

Apart from incredible scenery and wildlife there was something else that left a last impression on me and that is the people of these countries.

The adversity and hardship that some survive under is an eye-opener.

I’m not saying that people don’t do it tough here in Australia, but I really don’t think you can compare the two countries.

We spent a few days in Cape Town.

Our hotel overlooked Green Market Square, which is a home to markets seven days a week.

Each morning around 6am we would see people dragging bag trolleys loaded with everything to set up a market stall — metal framework, cloth/canvas covering, boxes full of goods to sell and, if lucky, a chair to sit on as they waited for customers.

Around 6pm, every stall was pulled down, loaded back onto bag trolleys and taken away — to where I’m not sure.

Maybe a storage place, maybe to wherever the market sellers lived. It wasn’t close by, I know that much.

To make it a little more difficult, the market square was surfaced with uneven cobble stones.

While we all said “oh poor buggers”, they were full of humour, smiles and banter.

They didn’t seem to want or need our sympathy.

In Zimbabwe, our hotel was filled with smiling, happy staff — from the cleaners to the gardeners, the wait and bar staff to the warden who patrolled the protective fence for roaming elephants and other wildlife.

You could barely walk two steps without being greeted by a happy, smiling face calling out “good morning, good afternoon, madam/sir”.

When we asked our guide about this wonderful attitude to their work, we were told that work was incredibly difficult to obtain, and those who had a job would do anything to keep it.

To lose a job was almost a certainty you would not obtain another.

Yet it certainly didn’t appear the staff were forcing this friendliness.

It was just in their nature.

I think there are some good lessons that Australians could take from a visit to a Third World country.

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