Just another reminder

I’ve fallen in love with YouTube…not sure if that’s a good/bad love.  But this video is just another reminder that we’re pretty damn lucky to live under a roof. Or have anything else for that matter.

I had a “moment”

Yesterday was “Commodities Day” at my internship. This means that anyone the age of 60 or older with a monthly income that is below the poverty line is able to get a free box of food once a month. Usually the box contains powdered milk, spaghetti noodles and spaghetti sauce, canned veggies, fruit, etc. Many of these clients/couples are able to live off of just this one box a month. It’s what gets them through, surprisingly enough.

To help the clients keep at least some of their pride, we allow them to stay in their cars and line up to recieve their commodities. I’ve seen this procedure done a few times, but yesterday it really affected me. I had to leave the office to make a visit to a foster care home. So I walked out the back in my high heels, dress pants, pea-coat and scarf, going towards my leased car of two years. The only thing between my car and me were the lines of mostly old run down cars with their owners in them waiting to get their food. So I had to walk through this line, and as I walked past some clients, I couldn’t dare look at them. At that very moment I felt like I had too much in my life. I wanted to hand my car off to them and say “have it, I’ll take yours.” I wanted to give away my pea-coat and tell them to turn it in for money so they could have more food in one month than just this box.

This week I have complained a couple times about having only $20 in my bank account and getting down to my last can of tuna fish (yummm). I do know, however, that in a couple days I will be receiving a check and I will have the ability to go and buy more food and not have to eat any more Ramen. These clients, these people in their cars, most of them don’t have checks coming to them.

The next time you open your cupboard and you “can’t find anything to eat”, put all your crappy last choice foods in a box and see how much it adds up. That’s how much some of my clients live off of a month.

Lesson of the week: Tuna fish sandwiches aren’t all that bad…

When The Levees Broke

I am quite surprised to find that I have not yet talked about the issue I am about to talk about in this entry – Hurricane Katrina.  For the past two winter breaks, I have gone down south to help rebuild for hurricane victims, each one being a humbling experience.  In December of 2005, just months after the hurricane hit, I went with a group down to New Orleans to help clean up an area near Tulane University.  This past December, I went with a group down to Mobile, Alabama to help rebuild for victims living in Bayou la Batre. Even a year and a half later, many people are still living in the same homes they did before the hurricane. Let’s just say the living conditions aren’t the greatest. The group I was a part of worked on a house that had mold, and a lack of floors, really. I will never forget the first image that I captured in my head of the condition of that house. 

Spike Lee decided to make a documentary on the situation in New Orleans and the surrounding areas. When the Levees Broke is a series of interviews and pictures of people and the experiences they went through.  One man talks about how he had to watch his mother die, leave her on the street, and find her in the same place a couple days later. Make sure to watch all three/four hours of it, and also listen to the commentary from Spike Lee.  I’ll admit, even photos don’t do it justice.

There Is No Me Without You

 woman and child

I just picked up this book at work today called “There Is No Me Without You” by Melissa Fay Greene. Sounds like a trashy romance novel, doesn’t it? It’s actually the opposite, however. This woman wrote a memoir about Ethiopia’s children and people living with the HIV/AIDS virus. I just got through the first chapter and was pissed.

Greene informed me that 81% of the country’s people live on less than $2 a day. (I’ve already spent that much, and it’s not even noon. ) What’s worse, only $2 per person per YEAR is spent on health care by the government. The funny thing is, in 1998 during a war, the government spent $2 million dollars a day. In 2000, Ethiopia’s defense budget exceeded $800 million.

This sounds familiar. Not that the United States is at this extremity, but I feel like our priorities are in the wrong place as is Ethiopia’s. Even though we are considered the most powerful nation on earth, there is definitely room for improvement. And just because Ethiopia is one of the most poverty-stricken countries does not mean we shouldn’t look at their situation and reconsider ours. Unfortunately, Ethiopia will probably never be a Utopia.

Things that make you go “hmmm…”

This music video made me think. And then it made me want to scold all the “gangsta” rappers out there who have all this “bling” and big SUV’s with rims the size of my whole body in their music videos.