Monday, June 14, 2010

La Douleur Exquise

Hey guys. I know it’s been awhile. I’ll be sorry when I have that kind of energy to spare.

I meant to write something about the school or the kids. But today it’s about me. And it’s not cheerful so consider yourself warned.

I am at a place beyond overwhelmed. I am beyond stress. I live within a constant hum of numbers and figures of what’s needed. I live within a constant blur of faces of those who are hurt and helpless and are reaching out for hope. I live within a constant scream.

Yesterday I went to visit a friend in Narok thinking I could have a day away from the mission with a friend. Just chill. Forget for a few hours about the great and terrible need. That was stupid of me. Poverty is always lying in wait to pounce.

My friend’s landlord stopped me and told me the newest version of the same story. Dead parents, three young kids living with him, no money for school not to even mention food or clothing.

All I could do was nod my head and say “I’ll see what I can do”, because I am out of promises. What I wanted to do was shake him and scream DO YOU REALIZE THAT YOU HAVE ADDED $10,000 TO WHAT I NEED? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH MONEY I NEED?

Instead I shook his hand and watched as his wife cried tears of hope.

I sat in my friend’s apartment with my head in my hands and when asked if I was crying I said no I’m doing math. As I ran through the calculations of school fees, debt relief numbers and expense reports that are my continuous companions he stopped me to tell me I could try just getting fees for one.

I had to stop myself from slapping him. I almost screamed “What do you mean just one? You can’t just take one. That’s worse then taking none” and he understood. Because there really is no way to pick and choose. They are all just as orphaned. Just as in need. Just as beautiful and deserving.

One of the aforementioned orphans came into his apartment and crawled into my lap and I wanted to cry and cry and cry and tell the child how beautiful and wonderful it was and how much I hated it and wished I had never met it. How I would never stop until I found a school for him but how a terrible and dark part of me hoped something would happen to take his burden off my hands.

As I looked into the child’s eyes all I could see reflected back at me were his added costs.

The more I grow into a hero here the smaller I feel. The more confident I am of my failure. I often feel that I am causing more harm than good. That I am wreaking havoc because in the end I will disappoint all and they will be worse off then they wore because they tasted hope.
I try to tell myself that if I can raise half the money, help half the people, reach a checkpoint I will be happy with myself. But that is a line of bullshit that makes me gag. I know I will never be able to look at myself again if I fail at this. I know that if I fall short at this then for the rest of my life I will look in the mirror and see Duncan or Daisy or Mary or Terrance looking back at me. Asking me why. Why didn’t I have the strength or the courage or the ability to help them.

If I fail at this I will never be without guilt.

Do you think I’m too involved in this? Do you think I’m too invested? Well I challenge you to do something remotely like this and not end up like me.

If I did not end up in this sort of exquisite agony then I would not be a person I could be proud of.

Maybe I’ll forgive myself if I fail, but I will never forgive myself if I do not exhaust every option I have.

So I’m calling in all debts. Did I lend you $5 in the seventh grade for lunch? Hand it over. Did I ever treat you to a movie? It’s payback time. That gas money I never asked for? I want it now. Pay me for any meal you ever ate at my house, for any joking bet we ever made, for anytime I bought the party favors. I don’t care why you pay me just hand the money over. If you don’t think you owe me any money then lend some to me now. Donate and keep tabs. I will pay you back. With interest. I will go into debt myself. What do you need? What can I do? Begging? Done. Pleading? Already happening. Want me to crawl on my hands and knees? Tell me when and where.

This is Africa. We all live in 7x5 quarters. There is no room for dignity.

I wonder if this is how Al Gore feels when he tries to get an environmental passed.

I love you. Please take part in my agony.


  1. *hugs* :( / :), dunno if I owe you anything, but I'm your friend and you've been mine, so in a way, I do owe you something! :)

    btw, this is trivial but, I liked that paragraph about calling in debts, well written *shrugs* I don't know hehe <3

  2. your dad filled me in on what you are doing/going through. i'll be praying for you to keep moving forward. geoff (down the street)