Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Poverty, Pobreza, Mize, Malsite

I hate poverty. I hate inequality. I hate how inadequate and helpless it makes me feel.

He tells me it's his birthday on Wednesday. When I congratulate him, his mother asks what for, so he reminds her as well. With 8 children, how can she remember birthdays, especially with no literacy or knowledge of the calendar? I make him a birthday cake, because that's just what I do, and wonder if this is his first one in his 21 years. My heart hurts.

She tells me she has no milk for her baby, who cries constantly in agreement. So I give her four cans of formula from my stock, that should last them awhile I think. She tells me the next day her neighbors baby was hungry, so she gave her 2 of her cans...and I am changed. This is giving. I give because I have plenty. True giving is when you don't have anything else to give, yet still find a way. I have a lot to learn here.

So what do I do? I can never make it right. I can't stop the dependency on those who have more, I can't lessen the gap. But I do all I know how to. I continue baking birthday cakes, I continue to spend time at her house drinking coffee, even knowing she has no extra money for this.

Sometimes it is a struggle living on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, with all the beautiful beaches and high tourism. In the village a few months back, I was visiting families, going house to house and learning about their children. At the top of the hill, I sat outside with some children chatting, as out of the tall grass came 6 tourists and a guide on a horse-back tour. I was speechless. My feelings ranged from shock to anger as they rode their literal high-horse through the village, my village, snapping pictures on all sides. I wanted to run, I wanted to shout at them, "Why don't you get off your horse, shake hands, heaven forbid even smile at these people! That kids picture you just took? That's Carlitos, he's 8 years old and is the man of the house. And that cute little black girl? She's Jeuli and she arrived from Haiti 10 months ago starving and weighing 28 pounds...and she's 8. And that one..." But I don't. I can't. I pray that this "adventure" can somehow touch them deeply in their lives as they develop their photos and remember.

I'm not here to change it all. Maybe not even change a big part, but I've found myself being changed. I am passionate about making it better. I want desperately to see Andres go to highschool and will fight what I have to to get him papers. This isn't fair, none of it, but we weren't promised fairness and justice, were we? So I just try to help in all that I can, to make a difference in the world that I'm placed in , and hopefully that'll be enough. I pray it is enough.

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is encouraging to read your blog. It allows me to still feel like I can be a part of what is happening in the DR. The part about the tourists riding through on their horses and taking pictures struck me because I know that if done the right way those pictures could impact the world in a way that could make a difference, but they won't unless like you said, they get off and can put a life story to the face in the picture. I just wanted to thank you, because of how you showed us true living in the DR during our trip, I have a whole bunch of pictures that have a story to them. Faces that can relay life to those who view them. Keep striving for doing all you can in the midst of what seems hopeless. Be like Abraham in Romans 4:18 who had "hope against hope" and believed God for his miracles.
Praying, April Helderman