Monday, March 22, 2010

DR - day 4

What an amazing trip this has been. Monday morning - third working day in a row. Still excited and motivated - not quite tired yet. Sleep has been hard to come by to be honest. I'm not one to take medication for anything. I do my very best to live what I teach and the best thing for our bodies is always natural. However, sleep deprivation is unnatural and quite frankly, my body is worn out from the time difference, no shower, no sleep and no asana practice. Thankfully I recognize when the mind is trying to take over so I can breathe through most discomforts.

Today was a big day. Liz, Eileen and myself played with the kids all morning long on their new "playground". They already knew how to play hopscotch but we taught them 4-square and duck, duck, goose. In Spanish they say' "pato, pato, ganza" so it made for quite an interesting game.

I am not quite sure where all the kids came from but they came from everywhere once they saw us running around. What a rush - watching their faces, seeing their smiles and hearing their laughter. The morning was quite perfect actually.

The afternoon was a bit different. This was the first day we headed out into the actual village of Habanero and the smaller villages within 5 miles. My mind could never have prepared me for what we saw. I know it's easy to say, "We are so lucky to live in America" and we can all wrap our brain around how privileged we are. Even if we live unconsciously demanding respect and thinking we deserve all that we have, there are still moments when we remember, with a light heart, that it's all a gift.
So Brenda takes us girls out to the village. She has been checking on a family she is concerned about. This in particular woman has three children - all boys - approximately 10 months, 3 and 4 years old. One of the little boys hasn't been to school in the past several months and Brenda wants to be sure everything is alright. When she gets there, the little boy in question looks very malnutritioned so she goes to the clinic and purchases him some vitamins, supplements and medicine. This costs her all of $50 which for some of us is pocket change. For the mother, it's unfathomable.

Brenda has gone back every morning since her first visit to check on them and she thought we would like to meet them. We drive about 4 miles from the school, along dirt roads and dusty trails. Most kids walk this way to school. The houses are shacks, literally and my heart blesses each one as we drive by.

When we pull up, the family immediately comes out to greet us. I am stunned with the condition of the children. Over the past few days, the children I have seen are well taken care of in comparison to these children. These children have no clothes on and are dusty from playing outside. It is obvious which one Brenda was worried about - he looks about 15 pounds lighter than he should be at his age but much better according to Brenda. The 10 month old, Samuel, takes my breath away. He is only 12 pounds and is not very responsive. My children were 10 pounds when they were born, walking at 10 months. I can't seem to get that thought out of my head. How does inequality happen? I am told when children don't get the proper nutrition at such a crucial time of development, they just don't develop properly. I know this but it still stings my heart as I hold this little angel. He is looking at me but right through me.

Brenda is making supplement shakes for the little boys while we are standing there. They share it without arguing but suck it down so quickly it's amazing. They are obviously hungry. We think the mother may be afraid to feed them too much for fear of running out. It's a sad situation really. As she continues to carry on a broken English-Spanish conversation with the mother, I smile and kiss Samuel but I feel tears beginning to form in my eyes. I hand him to Liz and walk away. I don't want the family to see me crying - it's my own deal.

When we leave I am overwhelmed by the emotions and thoughts running through my mind and heart. No yoga practice can prepare you for your heart's response to poverty and malnutrition. It's not the same seeing it on television than in real life.

We are driving down this same road and Brenda decides to stop off at another home where she knows the family. We walk in and the mother is a bit frantic. Her 4 year old daughter had fallen into their fire pit recently and had a horrible burn on her arm. The little girl is laying in bed, non responsive and very warm - almost feverish. It's challenging for us to wake her so Brenda picks her up, takes the mother with us and tells us she is going to drop us off and take this little girl to the clinic. She needs medical attention and she needs it now. I can't help but wonder what would happen if we didn't show up.

Brenda asks me if I want to go to the clinic but I can't. I feel like I have been punched in the stomach and my tears are still fresh from the other family. Now this child hurting, the mother scared and who knows what I would witness at the clinic. I just am not's too much. I am surprised by my reaction - to hang back instead of going for it, but my mind is truly on overload.
We head back to the dental team - their day in the "office" is done. Dr. Jacque Angell promised these kids a game of baseball after work and the entire team agrees. They play ball and I am amazed again, by the strength of these kids. What a difference from the children we saw today.

This evening is tough for me. Emotions not processed - so many ideas, concepts and beliefs of my own being questioned. This world is a big place but how do you go back to the way you were living once you have experienced such a contrast from your own life? It's the first night I give in and take a medically prescribed sleeping aid. I don't want to think or dream. I just want to sleep - one night.

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