Sunday, May 08, 2005

The face of Poverty

Raining here. I don't mind so much because today at midday it was still sweltering. We were in church, for a midday mass, they were all praying for peace and food while I was thanking God for the weight I lost so my thighs didn't stick together on the pew.
In retrospect, I guess, I have put a big emphasis on the bugs here and how they have affected my experience. Truth is I have realized it's easier to talk about the roaches then to hash out the human suffering that is surrounding me. It seems as though it is a forsaken place. When I was in Bolivia, where there is an equal share of poverty, we stayed in the city most of the time. When we briefly moved out into the country we were on a giant tour bus that made it all seem like one long drive through movie with out any popcorn. There were terrible housing situations....the cows and pigs would live in the house with the family all in one room with a small mud fence court yard and no bathrooms, just holes in the ground no dignity. It seemed terrible at the time, but,it felt different to me, that poverty had no face, it had no name and it certainly didn't know my name.
The poverty here is much more fierce, it burns like a hot poker. Jenny tells me they say it will be much worse as we go higher into the mountains because the people are freezing to death in combination with starvation. We postponed our trip till Monday in an attempt to get the plantation into a healthier condition, fast! The children have been coming down with pneumonia left and right. Marietta, a nurses aide and the closest we've got to a real nurse, noticed we have a few cases of resistant lice. Been treated with Right but it's not coming out. Two cases of new diarrhea as well. We are also preparing for a chicken pox outbreak. Our guard's son came in with it and his mother is pregnant which can be a lethal combination for the fetus.
After spending the better part of the day playing "Where's the keys" and beating our heads against the wall as a new form self gratifying Yoga, I decided heck with it we will go through the ceiling! So I grabbed one of the guys who was hanging out eating dry tortillas and we drug this huge ladder up the stairs to the hallway of the three doors. We tore down one of the ceiling tiles and crawled through the ceiling onto the other side. When we landed behind door number 2 which turned to be accessible to door number 3 also. There we found what seemed to be an abandoned apt. with boxes of junk in the entrance way. As I progressed through the rooms with Jenny behind me we were suddenly ambushed by a flock of bats! They didn't hit us thank god but we hit the deck. Thing is they weren't leaving the apt just moving room to room. Well we had come too far to go back now so I first asked Jenny if we got bit how fast did she realistically think we could get rabies treatment and satisfied by her answer of 4 hours I grabbed a broken window screen and we squatted under it moving room to room with the bats. Now I don't know if it actually protected us from the bats but it did make us feel better! We discovered boxes and boxes of blankets and clothes. So many things we could use. Everything was dirty and had evidence of the mouse buffet line but nothing a little bleach and some stitching couldn't handle. As for door number one well we removed the lock with a hack saw and found more of the same. I think the rat I smelled was a pack rat and it will take some time to get to the bottom of it. Jenny I have already decided to over haul the kids clothes take what they don't need or can't use along with the extra blankets and drive them up to the mountains where they really need wool blankets. Most of these supplies seem to have come from the army (brought after Hurricane Mitch). We think it was stored by Dr. Youngburg's wife (now 80ish) who from what we can make out wanted it all saved for a "rainy day" in other words if donations dried up and money got too tight. Well the rainy day is here and there is no sense letting this stuff rot. Funny how the Lord keeps giving us new missions.....Jenny and I learned about the people in the mountains and suddenly we find 15 boxes of wool blankets......


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