Thursday, September 13, 2007

Straddling Worlds

It has been a month of travelling - from DC to RI,down to the suburbs of NYC, back to the Maryland countryside and now down in the mountains outside of Asheville, NC.
On Saturday in downtown Asheville there was an organic food festival - as there is always a festival now in Asheville on the weekends- with a chair massager- ah luxury.

Was I local?,she asked. I used to be, I answered. But now I live in Santo Domingo and report from the border of Haiti. I hope to move to Haiti in the next couple of years.

"I worked in Haiti about twenty years ago for a few months- in a hunger relief program. It was very touching. The people were very sweet. I wasn't able to see much of the country as they did not let me out of the compound. When I came back to the States, I was incredibly angry for an entire year. Angry at the consumption, angry at the waste."

I thanked her profoundly not only for the massage but for naming the knot in my stomach that had been building over the last month.

While visiting my neices and nephews in a suburb 40 minutes outside NYC, I drove one day with the Mom to deliver one 11 year old to soccer camp where she could work on her "foot skills". We drove the minivan 45 minutes each way to deliver the girl into a field enclosed in a bubble - an enclosed air-conditioned bubble- where coaches from England trained about 75 suburban teens, primarily girls. The course cost $200 for the week,for 5 days of 4 hour sessions, which in NYC suburban terms was a bargin.

How can I explain Haiti to these children?

1 comment:

Zach A said...

Hi friend,
When I feel the weight of this kind of disconnect (though I'm sure I've never felt it to the degree you do here), it helps me to remember that if roles were reversed, many people would do pretty much the same things -- put a poor Haitian in the suburbs of NY with a lot of money, and they might eventually be spending the same amount of money as the natives.

To me this frames it in terms of universal human weaknesses and strengths manifesting themselves differently in different circumstances (which should be changed), rather than in terms of "good people" and "bad people".

Warm regards,
Zach Alexander