Guilt Gets You Nowhere

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I was born into a life of privilege. I did nothing to earn an advantage in life but I have one none the less. This summer, I became more aware of my privilege and was challenged to cope with the guilt I feel for having it.

Mwandi is a rural Zambian village located 75 miles west of Livingston along the road to Sesheke. During the summer of 2018, I traveled to Mwandi where I worked in the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) Mission Hospital for four weeks. Adjusting to life in Zambia was easier than I had expected. However, my preconceived notions of Zambia and African culture were quickly disproved.

Although I found adjusting to life in Zambia easy, I had a lot of trouble adjusting to my privilege. Despite the amazing leaders that live in Mwandi, poverty and disease runs rampant in the small community. In Zambia, I was confronted with the reality that the life I was born into provides me with more resources and opportunity than the life of a woman in Zambia. Realizations such as this made my time in Zambia an emotional experience. I often felt out of place and guilty for being born with certain advantages. However, I quickly realized that no amount of guilt would rectify the injustices of privilege. I learned to act on my emotions instead of obsessing over them. Guilt will not eliminate poverty or cure disease. Instead of feeling bad for the people I met in Zambia, I learned to help. It is important to recognize your privilege, but your sympathy is unproductive. Your actions are what matter.

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