We read a story this week about a woman with 44 kids.
By the age of 23, she had 25 kids – most came in the form of twins, triplets and even quadruplets.
And now that she’s 41, she’s finally had her last child. The doctors have made it so.
There are many fascinating angles to this story.
But ultimately, it’s a tale of perspective.
We hope it opens some eyes.
Mariam, the Ugandan mother of these kids, is broke – feeding a football team every day will do that.
It takes a daily ration of 25 pounds of corn… 15 pounds of beans… and nearly 10 pounds of sugar to feed all those stomachs.
It’s a bit of a curse that the world’s most fertile woman (for whom traditional birth control means was not an option) lives in one of its poorest countries. She collects scrap metal and sells homemade gin to put food on the table.
Her family lives in four small mud-walled houses, with many of the youngest kids resting their heads on dirt floors each night.
It’s a hell of thing.
Here vs. There
Meanwhile, we pick up the local paper this morning and see more folks wondering what in the world they’ll do later this month when their $600-a-week jobless bonus from Uncle Sam comes to an end.
They’re worried about paying for their new smartphone… their Netflix subscription… or the lease on their new car.
Worse yet, they worry they may have to go back to work.
Again, it’s a hell of thing.
Clearly, we could use a good change of perspective.
We mused about our “broken bowl” theory yesterday. It’s the idea that the fastest path to wealth is to spend far less than you make.
With $13.86 trillion worth of consumer debt in this country alone, clearly we’ve got some work to do. Most folks not only have failed to break their bowl… but also are working to fill a bigger bowl that’s borrowed from the bank.
A little more about Mariam may offer some mental reprieve from this financial tyranny…
A Tough Lot
At the age of just 12, her parents sold her to be married. Her “husband” was 40.
She had her first set of babies – twins – the next year.
As tough as it would be to take care of a couple of kids at that age, the story gets worse.
“My husband had many children from his past relationships, and I had to take care of them because their mothers were scattered all over,” Mariam said. Before he left her, “He was also violent and would beat me at any opportunity he got, even when I suggested an idea that he didn’t like.”
This sort of pain was part of Mariam’s life from a very young age. One day while Mariam was visiting relatives, the then-7-year-old came home to the news that her stepmother fatally poisoned each of her siblings by sprinkling glass in their food.
Through all of it, she’s remained positive.
Her message these days is one of many sides.
It’s about the powers of parental love. It’s about the difference a commitment to a lifelong marriage makes. And it’s about working your hardest to provide what’s needed.
Done right, the power of that message is strong. Her first children are already leaving the house. One is a successful nurse, while the other is building homes.
But here’s the thing.
Mariam never had to drop her bowl and break it in half. She started with pieces and patched them together.
She raises 44 kids in a country where 41% of its citizens live on less than $1.90 per day.
Lots of folks will hear this story and shrug their shoulders.
They’ll point a finger at Mariam and tell her she should have stopped having babies – that even if birth control made things worse, she could always close her legs.
They’ll say she’s probably living on government handouts – although there are no signs of such, and Uganda isn’t a country that can afford such first-world luxuries (or curses).
And they’ll say she’d probably trade it all in for a studio in Manhattan. But, again, there are no signs of such heinous dreams. She calls each of her kids a “blessing from God.”
With that, we now take a turn in our tale and answer the question the true skeptics are eager ask.
“Andy, you hypocrite, what’s this got to do with getting rich?”
We can lead you to more money. We’ve got the ideas and the strategies. We write of them often.
But they’ll do you no good if you don’t start with a solid foundation.
You must know why you want to build wealth. You must know what you’ll do with it. And you must know what it means to you and your loved ones.
If you’re after happiness, we’re sorry. It’s not traded on an exchange.
But security and Liberty… we can help.
It’s our mission.
The first step, though, is to break your bowl.
Do you think Mariam’s story gives some much needed perspective these days? Let us know your thoughts here.