I found out today that the fairly loud scratching noise coming from the wooden table and the wooden clothes rack in my room is from little termite-worm type bugs. I’ve not yet seen them, which again, I suppose is a blessing from above. I just have to cover my head with a pillow at night to drown out the loud sound they make! Remarkable volume, for what I imagine are pretty small bugs.
Yet how can I even think of mentioning this when those in the refugee camps have been wearing the same clothes for 6 weeks, ever since the floods washed them here. Their only belongings are what they carried with them. Many fathers who are left with a child or two- their wife was washed away in the wall of water. Many mothers who lost their children. Many children who lost both parents. For the rest of them, they don’t know if their extended families are alive or not. And it’s not just the flood victims, but also those who have been persecuted in the south of this country. One of the B college students who is from a village in the south, said she heard that her village had been ransacked, and had not yet heard if her family made it out alive or not.
A visiting doctor was out in the refugee camps today treating hundreds of people, among the thousands that are there. The doctor said that more than physical sickness, people were complaining of “no hope, despair, frustration, uncertainty about feeding their family, fear of the winter that is eventually coming.” Depression seems to be settling among these people – and who wouldn’t be depressed in such a situation – with no end in sight.
No end in sight…even without a flood, without persecution, there is no end in sight to the daily life that most people live here. As we came back in the jeep one evening, another lady commented on the people sitting on the side of the road in the dark with just a small candle and some goods (usually eggs) that they are selling. Sitting in the filth, just hoping for someone to come along and purchase their eggs, so they might have rice to feed their families. This is their life. And for most, if not all, it’s the only life they have ever known, or will ever know. Even the opportunity to improve their life is not saying much. The opportunities that do exist are certainly not some grand life that would promise very much more than what they have at present. And to take time away from their current life to try and pursue something else would result in increased poverty, as it would mean a loss of however many days’ wages it took to try and climb up the ladder. And knowing ahead of time that there is no guarantee of anything at the top of the ladder, it doesn’t seem worth the risk it is to climb. So, they sit, with their candle and eggs.
What kind of times do we live in? What is the answer for these situations? What is our role in all of this?
“If you can’t feed a thousand people, then feed one.” ~ Mother Teresa