Then there are those in the world who have a completely different perspective. They have experienced suffering - a kind of suffering most of us couldn't imagine - and suddenly it becomes hard to take for granted that roof over our head, spaghetti on our dinner plate, or water coming from the tap in our home. They know that not everyone has the luxury of these things. And suddenly, their perspective changes - no longer do those dilemmas, hardships and rough times seem quite as such.
My perspective came this past week, as I was reading Angels of a Lower Flight by Susie Scott Krabacher. It is about her experiences with the abandoned, orphaned, neglected, and handicapped children of Haiti. I have seen poverty before. I have been on two mission trips to Jamaica - construction and medical - and two trips to a Guatemalan orphanage - and after those trips I thought I'd gained perspective. But then, life took hold of me, and my world insulated me from the world of those who I had met in those places of what seemed like ages before. Don't get me wrong - I always have compassion for them. I pray for them at night, my husband and I sponsor a family in Ghana, I find it difficult to throw food away, knowing others go hungry, I often struggle with luxuries like purchasing plane tickets to visit family across the country or asking for gifts, when I know that money could be used for something so much more rewarding. But still - my life is pretty great, my perspective pretty padded.
I could be wrong - ask me in six months - but this time it is different. Throughout my travels, I still never experienced suffering like she describes in this book. I cannot get it out of my head. I go to bed thinking about these children, and wake up still thinking about them. I hold my daughter close to me, sing to her at night, and it makes my heart hurt for the children who will never have this. Not the ones Susie's organization (Mercy and Sharing) has reached, per se - but what about the ones who don't make it to her? What about the children around the world who are abused, abandoned, left to die? Who will love them? Those are the ones that haunt me at night in my dreams.
I encourage anyone to read the book - hopefully it will give you some perspective. If you do - I'd love to hear your comments. I feel sure it will change your life in some way. Here are some excerpts (WARNING - these are pretty heartbreaking, so if you're not ready for perspective... scroll down to the "How you can help" part.) I was particularly moved by the accounts of the children in the Abandoned Baby Unit in the Port au Prince government hospital. A place (which was decimated by the earthquake) where babies, many with defects, basically are left to die. When Susie discovered it, no one was caring for the children. The maids who were caring for them had quit being paid and all left. The children were severely dehydrated, hungry, soiled, riddled with bedsores, and some were even dead and had yet to be removed from their cribs, where they were often with other living babies.
From Angels of a Lower Flight:
"I found one child, probably two or three years old, tied by both wrists to the rails of a two-by-three foot iron crib. There was no adult in sight. The child's head was huge, perhaps four times as big as its body. I couldn't tell its gender. The head had grown so heavy with fluid that it had begun to flatten into a thick pancake. As the child rested against the hard surface of the plastic-covered slats of the crib, I calculated that the head alone weighed thirty or forty pounds. I watched the child for several minutes before I found the courage to caress its hideous head. Its eyes popped out from under their lids- pressure was causing them to bulge painfully. The child convulsed at my touch, then calmed as if hypnotized by something unseen. I rubbed its crusty, concave belly and stroked its tied arms. As we stared at each other I fell in love. The child, like most others in the ward, way lying in a pool of yellow diarrhea. I untied the knotted rags that bound its little hands to the rail. Viximar helped me lift the child so I could wipe away the mess from under its body. After removing a stiff cloth from around the child's groin, I discovered it was a girl. I kissed her forehead and she drifted into a deep sleep."
"I picked up one child who was quiet and awake. As I lifted her there was a slight resistance. She screamed and arched her back fiercely. I caught her head in my hand to pull her to me and comfort her. My hand sank into the back of her head and ooze ran between my fingers. I gasped and looked at the metal crib. A patch of flesh and hair stuck to the metal bars. The child had been lying so long without being picked up that her sores had healed onto the metal frame."
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
I am having a hard time figuring this out myself! Of course, money is ALWAYS the biggest help. I know everyone is spread thin, and you can't save them all, and you probably have several charities you are interested in donating to, but... the reality of it is, if any progress is to be made, money is required. In this case - to pay the Haitian mothers to care for the orphans, to pay school teachers to teach them, to buy food for them, and on down the line. So - I encourage you to give - even if it doesn't seem like much, it's a start. Choose a charity that speaks to you, and give.
If you are a spiritual person, you can pray. Pray that God will give those who are trying to help the wisdom to help in the best way possible, pray they will get resources they need to help, and pray for those who need the help most of all.
Beyond that, however, I am still working on it! I want to be on the ground - I want to rescue these children, hold them, pull them out of their hell, tell them they are loved. Mercy and Sharing doesn't accept volunteers - there are some organizations that do. But I want to go where I can help the most. THAT I will have to be working on for the present time. I am speaking with someone from Mercy and Sharing next week regarding grant writing (as I was successful in securing some for my MS research). We'll see where that leads.