Thursday, September 23, 2010


Sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed.

I honestly don’t believe I am going to accomplish everything I want to here. The water project is always on my mind but what scares me more are the students in need of scholarships.

Sure I have the money for this term but what about the next? And after that? Do I seriously think I have the ability to put these kids through school? (No.)

I often feel like I did something wrong taking these kids on. I know I’m not following the normal NGO or charity template when I do this, the PaciCorp might even condemn what I want to do here calling it destabilizing, and that embarrasses and shames me. I mean who the hell do I think I am that I can do something major and long running charities won’t or can’t do? Who the hell do I think I am that I am going to be able to keep these kids in school? That I am somehow ready to be responsible for lives.

That’s what scares me the most, the fact that I am no responsible for the lives of these students. My failure here means what I fear might be the deconstruction of their life.

It scares me so much I am exhausted. Just thinking about it hurts and makes me wish violently I hadn’t insisted on doing things my own way or going down my own path and I had just gone to college and followed the same path everyone else had. People talk about the pain of conformity but do they truly understand the terror that comes with doing things by yourself?

I mean sure I’m not completely alone. I have the support system of many people back home and I have been able to raise some money but…I often feel alone.

I don’t know how to explain this panic that keeps me up at night. I literally can’t breathe when I think about it. I sometimes have to fight the urge to hide from Mama Michelle when she asks me for school fees or from Peter when he comes to tell me he needs school supplies. Instinct tells me to run away, hide under my bed, and do anything to keep from facing this.

Of course I don’t. I feel compelled to put my head down and push myself forward throughout this, but it’s a painful compulsion.

I put everything I have into this but I know it’s not enough. I need the help of other people but I am ignored. I have been turned away by every rotary club, every church, and every major corporation I have approached. I am in this with myself and a few others and I am suspicious none of us have any idea what we are actually doing. This makes me feel like I am drowning.

I want to succeed here, but to succeed is to be responsible for these kids for the next, what, 12 years? It is to somehow stumble upon $70,000 or even just $10,000 to provide clean water to the surrounding town. It is to spend next 10 years of my life picking and choosing who to help and whom to let suffer. I want to say yes to everyone but knowing I can’t makes me want to turn everyone away.

I know a lot of my panic is illogical but still. It’s there. Also anyone who knows me knows I’ve never been super confident in myself. This means I am constantly questioning everything I do out here. Am I making the right decision? Am I moving in the right direction? Am I completely fucking over small children and ruining lives? Could I possibly be doing things correctly?

I look around the town I live in and wonder what I have really done. I only have 46 days left here and I feel like I am going to leave ashamed and secure in the knowledge that I have made no real impact.

I wish more then anything I could just get the water project started well I was here. As if I could magically come across $10,000 so we could get the tank to supply water to the town. If I could reach this benchmark then maybe I could sleep.

This fear of failure is so strong it’s hard to look at myself. I am already convinced I won’t be able to get these kids through school, let alone start putting in a water project, and it makes me kind of disgusted with myself. It’s hard to look at myself in the mirror without a bit of detest for the lack of action on my part. Luckily Madame Grace and I don’t have a mirror in our house.

What am I doing here? How can I still be asking myself these questions this long after my arrival?

I thought that I would know myself at the end of this project. I thought that the mists would suddenly clear and my life would appear before me as a straight line after this. Call it wishful thinking but I thought I would be a grown up. Someone who knew what it was they were doing.

The problem is I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing but now it’s at a higher level of game. Me not knowing what I’m doing means a lot of trouble for a lot of people.

I try to portray a confidence to everyone here. I act as if there are no problems and we are moving smoothly forward. I act unafraid. This makes me feel like someone who not only has no fucking clue what they are doing but a shameless liar. I don’t want to talk to anyone about it here, although I have poached the subject with Wilson, because…I guess because I like the way they look at me here.

I don’t even want to post this because I want everyone to think I’m running smoothly here. I want everyone to keep thinking I’m like, I dunno, a superhero or something. Taking on the world at 19 saving Africa one orphan at a time. I like the reaction people have to me when I act strong and as if I am unbothered and unburdened. When I pretend nothing is wrong hard enough sometimes I can believe it too. I can believe I am going to be able to do this. And I like the way that feels too.
On the other hand if I don’t write this out and tell somebody then I probably will have a mental break down.

I question if this show of weakness will make people hesitate to help me. But the truth is very few people are helping me and anyone who uses that as an excuse wasn’t going to help me in the first place.

The thing is I do have a plan. I have many plans. I have them all neatly organized on Microsoft excel sheets prettied by calculations and estimates and plans. I have plans and estimates from the school, from the water commission, from the companies that would put the system in. I have estimates from students, from teachers, from everyone I can think of. I have all the plans. I know how much I need. The problem is I just don’t have it.

It’s just not there.

Well okay. Now that I have written out some of my hysterics I can be more rational. Some of it is there. I have about 3000 which isn’t too shabby. My dream is that I will find a company to match me at 5,000 so we can start the water project. And that when I turn over this 10,000 to the school it can be in the name of the students who are being scholar shipped to cover their school fees. Then there will be constructions, and tanks, and clean cool water. And then when people come to the mission to buy the water, when the clean liquid is brought to the public school and the kids can stay in class, when people aren’t sick and dying all the time, when the mission is making money selling the clean water and the now unemployed women of the town are being employed by the mission to sell and carry the water, when this godforsaken little town expands and grows with the water until the government pays attention and brings other amenities, when we have gotten enough money for solar panels and the kids are taking hot showers for many of them the first time in their lives then I can think; Damn. I helped make this happen.

My eyes sometimes glaze over when I fantasize about this.

I have other fantasies too. I dream about watching Davin or Peter graduating from high school and on their way to university. Or a few years forward and Ian is on his way to medical school. Or law school. Something school. That sort of manic hope for the future parents have for their kids before they can walk and talk and sully the plans with their own ideas. I actually gave Peter a stern talking to about his hopes for the future when he told me he wanted to be a driver, telling him he was too smart to think small. I am pushing him towards politics, but I’m not stuck on that.

Speaking of Peter, I bought him his first pair of pants a few days ago. I’m serious. He wore short pants to school back in Loita and couldn’t afford any clothing besides his school uniform so the jeans I bought him were his first. Kinda mind blowing. Not to mention the belt and polo. (He looks so cute in them!)

It’s that kind of moment that makes the panic worth working through. I just wish I could stop thinking I was doing everything wrong. I wish I could banish my self doubt and move forward. I want to stop letting myself be infected by other people’s views on how I should do things or how this should look but I keep thinking that I have to be wrong.

Oh on a side note of daily life here—

I try to go jogging around this acre muddy field at least four times a week. The problem is the mud is so think during the raining season I get stuck and fall. I took my 3rd fall in about a month yesterday and it was pretty nasty, I actually had to go to the dispensary and when the doctor tried to touch it to rub some diclomed into it I screamed and attempted to kick him in the face. This lead to a small intervention being held where the people on the mission asked me to stop running as they are legitimately afraid for my well being. Wilson asked the same thing, I tried to tell him my clumsiness was endearing (well wrapping my sprained wrist from falling off a motorcycle) but he disagreed. He claims it’s more frightening.

Anyway I guess that’s enough for now. Thanks for reading guys!


1 comment:

  1. Aliya I'd only like to say. That your weakness to me. Makes you look stronger. A hell of a lot stronger.