crawling out of misery to land into poverty

Monday, April 14, 2006
Current mood: sad

Every day, I wake up and remind myself – today is the day of the Lord – life is precious – i am loved – i am blessed… But of course, I can’t help but wonder what’s going on with my people. How does someone who lives in destitute conditions in the slums of Haiti wake up in the morning and thank the Lord for their blessings? Does it happen? Are they upset at the way their lives are? Is it a lack of faithfulness that has left Haiti in the state that it’s in? why 6 million people in a state below poverty? Whose fault is all of this?

I remember my first time going to the market with our cook, and she told me not to let anyone touch me. She said that if I let the people at the market touch me, they would make me “dirty” like them. If I were dirty like them, my family would have to throw me away. I didn’t know what that meant, so to me, they were jinns, or demons that wanted to eat me or make me disappear of something… That was in Morocco. To this day, I wonder what she meant… Maybe she just wanted to scare me into sticking close to her, or maybe she possessed some underlying beliefs of the “market people.”

Fast forward to Haiti a couple of years later. Reminiscent of the busy markets in Morocco, I used to beg the house help to let me accompany them when they went to do the groceries. No matter who I asked, none of them wanted to let me join them. My aunt would kill them they would say. There’s nothing to see at the market… Go to the supermarket with your aunt – leave the actual market shopping to us they would say. It never made any sense to me. So when a new maid joined us that was only 5 yrs my senior, I begged her to let me come with her when she needed to buy legumes for dinner the next day. I never saw that many beggars in my life. On that trip to the market was my first time seeing a dead body – several dead bodies. And everyone seemed unphazed… People went about their business, buying food for their homes. Or so I thought – almost everyone there worked at someone’s house as a cook, or some other type of house help, and they were the privileged ones at the market. I had always felt sorry for the fact that we had a bunch of women working in our house, the youngest being a teen, the eldest in her 80’s. Going to the market in Haiti showed me that there are multiple levels of poverty. It showed me that the house help were better off than over 60% of teh population. It showed me that there are people in destitution beyond anything we can ever understand in our plush lives. Sad but true, but in Haiti, there are too many people hoping and praying to crawl out of misery to land into poverty.