Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Haiti, went to build, returned have only tore down.

let me being this entry by saying THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to those of you who sent me on this trip. your donations and those who purchased the lithograph really enabled me to go on this trip with little worry about finances, and helped to be able to financially invest in others to go on this trip as well. you are greatly appreciated by many.

the trip was altering. i don't want to say exciting or emotionally exhilarating because i think those, much like camp highs, fade with time. this was a change of a mindset. of learning to stretch myself in ways i had not been in years. this is a change that will not fade in mere days, but an educational installment that will challenge the way i see the world for the rest of my life.

before we left i had an irksome intuition. i felt that this trip would not be what i thought it was going to be. i felt that i was going to have to decide whether to DO or to BE. not clear on what that was going to entail i set out for miami to catch my flight.

upon arrival we were informed that in fact port a prince was not the safest places in the world right now for foriegners so instead of concentrating on the local orphanage we were going to fly to jacmel. a city right over the mountain range in sight. once in jacmel we took an hour and a half walk up the side of the mountain to a small farming community called mano.

mano is unlike many US cities in that it has no running water, no electricity, no air conditioning, no modern convenience, and it has a deep sense of community. this is where it began for me. the realization that i was selfish and egocentric hit me within minutes of arriving because my idea of 'comfort' was no where in sight. actually no where within several miles.

sleeping was the difficult part as the temperatures at night were closer to 90 degrees, and the mosquito's claimed me for their own, regardless of the multiple layers of toxic bug spray. the food was different, as i was introduced to this amazing vegetable called breadfruit. it looked just like a cantaloupe but tasted when baked like a potato. when it was boiled you could dip the breadfruit out with a spoon and had the consistency of mashed potatoes.

our goal in jacmel was not to DO for the people, but BE with the people. in my mind i wanted to do, i wanted action. i wanted to build something. to create. feeling that i had to prove to these people that we cared, and if i couldn't build or create than my trip was purposeless. i was wrong.

in haiti one of the most valued principle in their culture is community. they were unconcerned with most tasks we deam as imperative. the lasting effect they desired from my trip was not building four walls in some school, but building a relationship. they were not asking me to help them construct their road, but a friendship.

the majority of people in mano had never seen a white person before. on many occasions people would come up and touch my hair to see what the texture was. once a little girl licked her finger and tried to rub off my tattoo. for them i was more than just a foreigner, i was american.

america doesn't have the greatest reputation around the world. folklore, foreign governments, and misinformation play a deep role in founding others beliefs about our nation. even if the rumors they have heard are false, that is all they know of the country and since that is all they know they believe it.

i built more than a road, i tore down walls. by just BEING, and not DOING i was able to develop relationships with everyone from a carpenter to a voodoo doctor. i had the opportunity to clear up misconceptions and stereotypes through spending hours working, playing, and eating along side these amazing human beings. it wasn't the action the people desired, it was the attention.

even though i felt alot of their values were opposite of mine their sense of community was overwhelming and convicting. why do i always feel like i have to be doing something for people. to cultivate relationships are more important and more essential. to have the ties of family are invaluable. these are the first lesson of this trip i walked away from.

i went to haiti to build, i ended up tearing down.
myself, my ethoncentrism, and walls.

...more to come. a lot more.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Haiti




i just got back about twenty minutes ago. i want to write all about it. and i will. but give me a little time to take a shower (the first in almost two weeks) and to sleep. you were in my thoughts.
-esteban

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

journal entry 5.17.06 ramblings on the veracity puzzle

if i died one would merely have to collect my writings, photographs, journals, and the conversations i have had to know everything about me. i feel in life each one of us are a complex puzzle, the older we get the more pieces there are for one to collect. we give a small portion of ourselves to each event, moment, and person that we come into contact with. i would imagine we are all the same, some pieces given more freely than others. some pieces bigger than others, according to their importance/impact on/in our lives. are we really ever really ourselves, not in the sense of being who we really are, but do we belong to ourselves? are we really an island to ourselves?
i believe we are not and island to ourselves because clearly when others give us apart of themselves (whether it be their intellect, faith, or opinion) we do not only take a piece of their proverbial puzzle, but we then try our best to attach it where might fit the best, if at all. and they take from us as well. whether good or bad, right or wrong, positive or negative.
the other day as me and dorian were sitting outside wishing it were a few degrees cooler and i proceeded to surrender to him my struggles, not that he could ever relate or sympathize, but that i could hand him a section of me that was an aggravation to maintain. why does handing something verbally over to someone feel so freeing? as if now it is their burden to share as well, even though that could not be further from the truth.
i wonder if the reason i don’t tell one person alone every aspect of my life is because i’m afraid of what they might find out. as if one person alone held every key they would realize i am simply human. so silence is a defense mechanism. silence allows the ability to have opinions formulated not by who you truly are but by what others think you are.
well silence has never had its way with me before, so why begin now. i want to hear what others believe, i realize that the more i know the more i realize i have not a damn clue. i want to learn truth, i think we all do, there is something out there greater than ourselves, that can complete our own ‘puzzle’, because i see now we were never complete to begin with. though i find solace in the words and wisdom of others, i see that knowledge and understanding are only the beginning of any quest for veracity.

Food for Brides; starvation in kenya, africa

As many of you know anberlin has been involved with world vision for some time. on the last tooth and nail tour we raised money to build wells in kenya, africa. this region is drying up, and because of that many familes are trading food for young girls who are then forced into marriage's against their will.

this is a report world vision issued today:

Ruth Nthambi is a delighted recipient of maize provided at a World Vision food distribution in Kenya. Photo by Kari Costanza. Drought-fueled poverty is compelling children to drop out of school and forcing young girls into unwanted, early marriage, according to World Vision relief staff.

Field Officer Abraham Losinyen, who oversees food distribution in eastern Kenya's Makueni district, said the practice was often a family's last resort in a desperate situation.

"Many families have to marry off their young daughters to people who can give them food. It's a trend that will likely increase as long as the crisis becomes bigger and bigger," he reports.

Staff in the area estimate as many as one in 10 families will have a girl who weds early because of the drought.

Among those feeling the pressure is mother Ruth Nthambi. Her youngest children already display the orange-tinged hair of the undernourished, and lack of food and cash is keeping them out of school.

Nthambi said it was becoming more and more tempting to send her 10-year-old daughter Kathina to Nairobi to work, or find someone to marry her.

Three years ago Nthambi had sent another daughter to Nairobi during difficult times. She ended up marrying a gas station attendant when she was 14 years old, much to her mother's dismay.

"Obviously, I'm sure the same thing will happen if I don't get some money," Nthambi says. "I am not happy, but there's nothing I can do about it."

Her daughter Kathina says she wants to continue her schooling and eventually become a teacher but worries the drought may rob her of that opportunity.

"Early marriage is bad. It's bad because children should go to school," she says.

Nthambi's mood improved a few hours later when she benefited from a World Vision food distribution, where she was able to collect a maize ration for each member of her family.

"Now the children will have something to eat. Because of the food distribution the children can go to school," she expresses with joy.

About 14 million people are suffering from hunger in East Africa, chiefly due to drought. World Vision is conducting extensive relief operations throughout the region.



Get Involved
Provide emergency food aid to Africa.
Sponsor a HopeChild in a high-HIV prevalence country in Africa such as Kenya.
Support Food Aid funding.
Pray for rain in East Africa! And that World Vision would be able to successfully plan and implement programs that would insulate communities against the effects of drought.

*see the full report and links on http://www.worldvision.org/about_us.nsf/child/eNews_kenya_051606?OpenDocument&campaign=1265397&cmp=EMC-1265397