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How did you decide who to help……….

January 3, 2011

Talking to my youngest child is like having a conversation with a racketball – in the middle of an olympic match with gold medal implications. She comes at you from all different angles at one hundred and ten miles an hour. It’s really too bad that Johnny Cochran is no longer with us because she could have given him a run for his money.

The other day we are riding in the car – just me and her – on the way to swim practice. Her mind is racing about anything and everything and we have this conversation…

Angel: Mom, remember the other day when we were riding in the car and we saw that lady in the middle of the road?
Me: Yes.
Angel: Why was she there?
Me: She was asking for help.
Angel: Why was she doing it there?
Me: Don’t you want to give me your Christmas list? Seriously, now is a good time to ask for just about anything because I will promise the moon if we can talk about regular old 9-year-old stuff.

We saw this woman in Silver Spring, Maryland. She was begging in between cars at an exit ramp right off of 495 – one of the busiest roads in this area. She had a severe limp and was bundled up not so warmly on a pretty cold and very windy day. I asked the kids if they had any snacks. They didn’t. So we drove by carefully and quickly, leaving her standing still empty handed right in the middle of the road.

Apparently she made an impression.

Angel: How did you decide who to help?
Me: You mean that lady? We didn’t have any food to give her.
Angel: No, in India.
Me: It just depends, honey.
Angel: But sometimes you gave them money. And sometimes you gave them food. And sometimes nothing.
Me: (humming All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.) Any progress on that Christmas list sweetie?
Angel: No, really. Remember, there was the one guy you gave money to. The one on the corner on the way to school. And then you stopped giving him money. How did you decide who to help.

That conversation made me realize that I still have a lot to reconcile and digest about living in India.

My husband suggested the other day that maybe we should stop talking so much about it with other people. It always seems to creep into the conversation and he thinks maybe people are tired of hearing about it.

Maybe.

But it is part of who we are now. It will come up.

And I hope to spend the next few weeks reconciling the effect that seeing so much poverty had on me. Some of the posts will surely be tough to read – believe me they will be tougher to write. And I will write them comfy and cozy from my office knowing that it is harder to exist in poverty than write about it from a distance.

But I do hope that we can stick through it together. I hope that I can articulate with clarity and compassion what we experienced in a way that captures your attention. Because simply clicking away from these posts will not diminish the existence and impact of poverty.

This should be fun, right?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa Waniel permalink
    January 4, 2011 12:49 pm

    It will never get old. Have you seen that book A Fine Balance yet?

    • January 4, 2011 1:33 pm

      I just don’t want it to fade – I have not read that book yet but I have heard of it. I should get it.

  2. January 4, 2011 2:34 am

    ditto Laura’s comment!

    • January 4, 2011 1:31 pm

      You know well how hard it is to make sense of all of this – and then to try to explain it – augh!

  3. Laura permalink
    January 3, 2011 1:52 pm

    Keep writing about this – don’t stop talking about it. I find Africa creeps into my every conversation too – and I get those looks all the time….but part of the gift of the experience is that you share it with others – even when they sometimes look like they’re not ready to receive it. Still – I have to think that there is a reason you were there, that you had that experience, that you are connected to others on the planet and that you can’t resist talking about what you’ve lived with them….perhaps there is a reason they need to hear that from you.

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