Service Projects Testimony
…Phida said as she braided the women’s hair, one after another, and that there were two things every single woman told her.
First, that they were so thankful she was there, talking with them. They were so overwhelmed that she was touching them.
Second, that they wish they could just die.
They are tired of being hungry every day. Tired of begging, tired of being alone, tired of suffering. They wish they would just die already. They are the bottom of the food-chain, the lowest of the low, the shamed among society, and they wish they were finished.
For years, as students have questioned me about the very foreign idea of suicide, I have wondered if maybe it is nonexistent in Haiti because the culture is so incredibly community oriented. As hard as life may be, everyone is doing it together, and it keeps the spirit far from the darkness of wanting life to end.
This is the first time Phida’d ever heard someone say that, because it’s the first time she’s worked with people who were truly alone.
She said as she was washing the insects out of one woman’s hair, her hair was falling out into Phida’s hand in clumps. She was so malnourished, her hair hadn’t been rebraided in so long, it was just coming out into her hands. Phida’d never seen that before.
More horrifically, she said there was one old woman, tiny and twisted entirely, who was laying on her mattress, unable to get up or move.
As she approached her, the smell was so putrid that her eyes were stinging.
“If it were not for love,” Phida said urgently in my office this morning, “I never could have gotten near to her. It was love, His love, that enabled me to touch her.”
If not for love.
They scooped her off the mattress, and two of the girls took her to wash her, throw away her clothes, dress her in new ones and braid her hair. Phida asked two of the guys to take that mattress outside and DO something with it. Put it in the sun? Wash it? Something?
The guys went to lift it, and as soon as they touched it, a million cockroaches started pouring out of it. They jumped back, watching them scurry into other corners, and kicked the mattress a bunch more times until the outflow of cockroaches stopped. Then they bent to pick it up again, and as they lifted it from the floor, a rat came flying out of a deep hole, down his leg, and out the door.
They bent to pick it up, and as they lifted it from the floor, a rat came flying out–out of the mattress this woman was just LIVING on–down his leg and out the door.
I don’t even know what to say but to say it again.
You can’t wash that.
It all happened on Saturday with our staff and students. It is happening still there today.
It’s happening in that house, it is happening in poor houses and orphanages and street corners all around Haiti.
It is happening in poor houses and orphanages and street corners ALL AROUND THE WORLD this morning family.
This is our burden, His burden–the poor.
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