I am currently laying in bed, hoping the nasal decongestant kicks in so I can go and do some more house visits this afternoon.
Part of the journey here is of a spiritual nature, not biblical, although for some on this excursion it is. For others it is not, like myself, but I believe god is present in all facets, like the woman Caroline who is accepting the help of christians, and is muslim. I came to see, to witness, to be reconnected with humility, humanity, love, and compassion, that those who once were apart of my life left scars on my heart in place of that. I came to see, as our team leader has asked us to focus on, our heart print on others, and to express my heart song.
Some of you know that I was sexually assaulted, robed, and almost murdered merely four years ago, abandoned by friends and rejected by family for being a failure, not strong enough, for being weak and sick, and the rage I felt and reaction to their rejection affected me in such away I gave them what they wanted: an excuse to be judgmental, and unresponsive, to react in anger, as they did towards me, cutting and heartless, because they decided, my tribe, decided, I was not welcome anymore. And instead of giving love to offset the damage, they gave hate instead, and taught me hate, and I responded in kind. Not my most proud of moments. However, I know my heart song, and what I wanted deep down inside, to feel important, to know I’m important, and to feel like I matter to someone else, to know love. Just like them.
As I am here, searching through the sea of faces, going to homes in the largest slum in Africa counting over 1 Million, I got to help participate, bear witness, and facilitate giving hope to these women, and children, in need of an education to improve themselves and their lives. I come with this small group of seven women, to tell these women, your child can go to school.
And as far as my ego, I am feeling completely and utterly powerless, and unimportant. All I am is the greeter to a new life for these people, the rest of the work is in the hands of the teachers, administrators, non-profit runners, cooks, drivers, and children. The work I can not claim as my own (but possibly someday), and the work of this Icelandic woman named Thorrin, who was once a seller of dried fish in her country, to a creator of a social group for the handicapped, to this woman who came with a suitcase and within a week housed 25 street children at her new home in Kenya, she has done the work, she has done the magic, she has bleed, and sweat, and cried with her efforts to just give others a chance.
These are the fruits of her labor, not of mine, and of her staff, and of the work of others, I am just a human sharing space for others and the energy of love, and light, to the best of my ability.
I remember when I was homeless for the short stint I was, I cried for those I loved to do the same for me every night, and when I awoke with the hope that they heard me, that our souls were connected, I only woke and dealt with either destruction, anger, or ignorance. My own, as well as theirs, especially when I was at a point where my heart was beginning to soften and it would fill up temporarily with hope, and then loneliness and isolation contributed to my wanting to die, and standing on an overpass in Texas, deciding whether to jump or not. But knowing if I jumped it would cause an accident, and I was probably better of drowning myself in a lake, because it is better to be forgettable, its easier and more compassionate to others to die quietly. People try to act like what they do does not affect others, your old enough to know better or to let someone get to you like that, but that comes from someone who has never known what it was like to love deeply once, to have no money, no food, and the echos of an abusive fathers words being mirrored in your life by strangers and those who know you.
“If you love them let them go, or better to love and lost than to never to have loved at all.” Those people haven’t known what it is like to truly live and love or need with every atom of your soul, they have never truly loved the energy flow of the other person, the unspoken connection between other human beings, it’s almost bound in the blood, like your body needs it like sunlight to live. No one has known that type of love, and no one has ever asked or understand how I loved. What it has meant to me, and that is my heart. They take love for granted, it’s like choosing toothpaste at Walgreens to them. “Today I feel like cool mint instead of spearmint.”
All I can truly give is a fragment of a moment, give a spark of a hand held, or a frown turned to a smile, to give my heart in that moment is an honor, and to know that it is all I am asked to do at this time, is wonderful, while faced with the conditions, rusted metal on the ground, broken glass and plastic everywhere, entry ways and streets littered with clothes and underwear crumpled and walked on. Mud floored homes with steel walls creating a hot box of odor nestled into hills, where people of 100-200 share one latrine, a hole in the ground, where people aren’t even using the hole, and toilet paper is a non-existent. And to think these houses, without electricity, without windows, the wallpaper magazines and newspapers, are down hill to the latrine, and water and rain just flows through their homes, washing that to their spaces. There is no sanctuary here, home is so exposed, privacy is imaginary.
Where water is 5 shillings for 20 liters. And these women are making $6 US dollars a week. To pay for rent, food, electricity is stolen, and often times water too. These one room homes housing 6-7 people sometimes, the size of some people’s closets in America. And these numbers are real, not an inflation or bait and switch, they are real.
My only gift I hope to give is to be able to show what my eyes see, the beauty in the beastliness of the city and slums, the perfection of light, love and hope that these people hold onto in a sea of imperfection. But is it enough? That is the hardest part of this, I know my little bit is not enough to inspire and keep the life light for others alive, but I hope to just be a seed to lead these people to grasp onto the string to be woven into a blanket of arriving to comfort, to a better life, to growth, to wholeness someday. To help these kids possibly to go to University, or at least believe that it will happen for them, because they believe they will and can. Just because people are willing to care, to share their hearts, and love. That is a tribe I’d rather belong in.