Friday, November 9, 2007

Being of Service

I was up in the "campo" on Saturday with a group of volunteers, helping with the hurricane relief efforts. By "campo" here, we in the Capital mean every place that is not here. It was a delight to arrive in San Juana de Maguana, expecting the typical "campo" hotel - one center overhead light bulb, not so clean sheets, fan that does not work, no mosquito net, no screens- to find my contact settled into a lovely hotel run by Lebanese, clean sheets, bedside lamp, even towels and soap. I had nevertheless packed my Bonner's, my pack towel, my LED light, my mosquito net, as I always do.

In the morning, at the front desk, I encountered a Haitian. I have "Haitian" radar the way gays have "gaydar" - I long to be among them, I yearn for their company, I can detect a small rolled "r" inside their Spanish. He was delighted by my French (which has the proper accent since I started at age 5 - can choke back the "r", roll out the double "l" and say "frog" - "grenouille"
which may be the definitive French word.)

Years back, under Trujillo, over 30,000 Haitians were slaughtered here on the border. The test of " Dominicaness" was whether or not they could properly pronounce "parsely" "perejil" - with the proper Spanish . But for my white skin, I would have been massacred. I cannot yet roll those "r's.

He was there representing a group of Haitian churches who were working with the Dominican churches in setting up programs in schools across the border from one another - so that the students could begin to meet with one another, learn the other's culture.

I was there, I reported, with the Collectiva des Mujeres y Salud, to deliver aid to the victims of Hurricane Noel and write a story. They also worked to decriminalize abortion in the cases of rape, incest or threat to the mother's life. I waited for his response.

"We work with anyone. Really. Anyone of good will. I am myself opposed to abortion, but I respect the opinions of others who disagree. We even work with Vouduistes."

So I was able to introduce him to the young woman organizer from the "Collectiva". They were able to sit together at coffee, exchange contact information.

It was one of those moments when I felt that I was, indeed, being of Service. Had answered the true call.

I love to see people of goodwill working together.

I was delighted to read this report of Christians (who often have a problem with tolerance in my experience) from Cuba, posted by the news agency which has printed my stories.

Gives one a bit of hope.

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