I always have an incontrollable urge to spit from high places. So today, while I was reading outside up on the seventh deck, I leaned across the rail, made sure no one was looking and hacked a wad of spit down below. Gracefully, I watched my spit fly through there air and splash on the water in concentric circles.
In less than a second the rings were assimilated into the still water as if the never existed.
My senses are somewhat overloaded at the moment and I am having to create an entirely new schema to contain my experiences. This weekend I was able to spend some time off the ship and although I was well read and well prepared for what Liberia would be like, you cannot help but be profoundly moved by the present conditions.
The air is filled with stories of rape, war and fear. The roads are broken. The water is dirty. I learned this week that every 12 seconds someone dies from malaria. Every 30 seconds it’s a child that dies. As we walked through the city I had to raise my floor length skirt so that the border didn’t become soaked from the many stagnant pools of water that paraded throughout the residential area. It’s rainy season in Liberia and there is no infrastructure for the rain to divulge in. Although, I don’t think all the puddles were rain water. Either way, the mosquito’s don’t care. Any puddle of cess will do.
Children are everywhere. They smile and wave as we walk by. Many extend a playful hand. I wonder what they think when they see me. White. Tall. Western. Privileged. The innocence of children is one reason why I choose to work with them over adults. Adults can frustrate me. But you cannot withhold your compassion from a child.
A child on the street extends his hand.
My mother was a white American. His a black Liberian. I was born in a hospital. He might have been born at home or in the bush. Maybe his mother was running from the rebel army right before his birth. But none of that matter’s when he reaches out his hand. Neither one of us choose to be born. We had nothing to do with the color of our eyes or skin. And yet such a divide exists between our circumstances.
I grab his hand as I walk by.
The hand of the giver touches the hand of the receiver. Both hands made of the same cell and bone structure. Both hands requiring a specific amount of oxygenation and blood. Both created in the same image and likeness of a loving God. We are really not so different.
As I recalled the day’s experience on the seventh deck I felt paralyzingly humbled. And I wondered where the heck do I go from here. If the world’s problem’s were the sea, my year commitment to the people of West Africa would assimilate into their poverty quicker than my spit in the water. But I am happy to feel that way. I want to be moved. I hope this year ruins everyday life forever.