Friday, January 15, 2010

What do you do?

I work for an organization that raises money for a hospital in Haiti. It hasn't been easy all the time working for them, but I feel like that's how it is with any non-profit.

My primary issues with the organization was based what it means to be on this end of a fund raising organization. For a long time it was really hard for me to be OK with fund raising tactics, this idea of throwing a big party with fancy people and dresses and food to help the poor, hungry people miles and miles away. It would make me very uncomfortable to talk about how the invitations would look, and paper preferences and which festive stamps to put on the envelopes, when I'd seen malnourished infants, whose swollen bellies were being caressed by their mothers, mothers who sang prayers for their children to be "Kapab manje" (able to eat again), kapab manje the food that these mothers knew they would not always be able to give. These babies were so hungry that they simply refused to eat; they had resigned themselves, their little infant bodies, to starvation.

No, I don't care which stamps you use, and the debate needs to be over now. I complained quite a bit about this whole setup, mostly because of the inconsistencies I saw in these efforts. Why don't these people just give? All the time? I knew they could.

And now here we are--

Having seen this world, I can't imagine what it looks like now, now that the sky went and fell on their already heavily-burdened heads. Come on, why Haiti?

First thing is first, and I'm not ashamed to say this: I'm so glad that everyone I know down there is ok. That my ex-boyfriend, one and the same who broke my heart, is alive and well. Thank god--

We create these structures, these arbitrary narratives that we point to saying, "This is my truth, this is the sacred architecture of my reality." And then the real world comes and taps you on the shoulder. With a perfectly-formed flower by your desk. Or an earthquake hundreds of miles away.

The nice thing about this sort of reality check* is that it lends you a certain clarity, even if you can't logicize it.

And also, if you're lucky, with the clarity comes a thing called hope.

There will be no party. And they are already just giving. Giving so much, that we are totally inundated with their good will. That people, who can't pay online, are coming in and delivering checks by hand. For $15, or $15,000. People are giving what they can, because they can. And it's truly amazing.

It is so, so heartening to see people rally behind this country, these people, no frills attached.

In turn, I have acknowledged feelings that I can't understand, but still make perfect sense.

*And I honestly don't think it necessarily takes a 7.0 earthquake in this hemisphere's poorest country to have a reality check; as I said, flowers also tend to do it for me...some poetry...other humans...a flock of birds. And then experiences--trauma, grief.

1 comment:

a thousand shades of twilight said...

It's hard not to ask "Why Haiti?" isn't it, especially given their years of hardship and injustice? Another reminder that to expect life to be fair is sheer folly.
Glad to hear that folks are giving, and seeing past the endless envelope debates..