Call me stupid but, I must have enough to live on.
The phrase ‘to live on’ has taken on a different meaning as my days in Haiti come to a close. I have watched women drenched in sweat, stand for hours in the hot sun in the ‘one item or less’ line. Don’t you hate those lines? They never move fast enough. Neither do these lines. Thousands of women arrive as early as 6 a.m. and wait for hours for something to take home to feed their families. They are waiting for their one item of, a bag of rice or beans. They get water in buckets from another line and carry that home later. As I recall this scene I step away from my kitchen faucet. I let the water run so it is cold enough not to need ice cubes that I don’t add ice cubes. I use that time to choose my favorite glass.
I took care of some of these women as they arrived in the clinic. They had carried 40 pound bag of food, five to ten gallons of water, on their heads, along crowded uneven and dusty roads. It may take or seem to take an hour to get back to their homes. It is not a house. It is home. It is made of sheets, blankets, tents and cardboard, and if very fortunate, some donated tarpaulins. They came to clinic, or were brought there, confused, lethargic, sweating and near death from dehydration and sun stroke. As I interview them through an interpreter, I ask myself; ‘What do I need to live on?’ I need to narrow that list. I think the water is cold enough to fill my glass now.
Call me insensitive, but a refrigerator that keeps food just long enough for me to dump in the garbage or feed my dogs is not essential to life. I confess. If I can recognize the color as original, I will eat it. Let me narrow my list. It no longer includes bottled water or that green stuff I just threw out. The dog would not touch it.
Call me out of touch, but spending for reality T.V. is off of my list of essentials after seeing the reality of people searching the garbage for food hoping to find enough to eat before the dogs, or neighbors get it or before nightfall comes. It is hard to find good garbage to eat in the dark and avoid the rats.
Call me out of step, but it seems that the $17 I recently spent on popcorn, soda and a movie may have been a bit extravagant on my part. How far does 17$ go in Haiti, street sweepers make 4 dollars a day Of course I work hard and I deserve to be entertained and amused. But a movie about rescuing people who are being devastated by an alien force pales in comparison to helping people who are being decimated by a natural disaster. I could have actually spent a bit more here helping them, micro-waved a bag, had some Kool-Aid and read a good book.
Call me ridiculous, but now I realize that telling people I have been called to serve about my fears and frustrations does not make sense to them. They don’t really care to know about the problems I will face retiring because I did not put enough aside for my later years. They just want to make it through the day. They have seen too much death, even this week.
Call me stupid but if I can’t go a week or a month to help people, should I be willing to spend a week salary, or even a month’s salary to help someone do it in my stead?
Now you can really call me stupid, insensitive, out of touch, out of step, and ridiculous. Give a whole week’s or month’s salary to help? Let me see how bad it really is. Turn on CNN and get the real story. Don’t be stupid. After all, you must have enough to live on.
Haiti needs help. Go, give or send. That is smart. That pleases God.