Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Thing About Poverty

The taxi turned into the entrance and drove up the pothole-pitted dusty road. At the end of the driveway, near the entrance to the building, broken playground sat deserted to the left. To the right a dog could be found resting in a shady spot in the dirt, seeking escape from the uncomfortable combination of hot temperatures and high humidity. 

Also on the right near the dog and dirt and shade and weeds and garbage and dumpster could be found a busted up picnic table.  On what remained of the bench a person could be found sleeping on her side. As I've been around enough to know a homeless person when I see one, I looked away from the bench and focused my attention on the front door. 

The taxi driver honked the horn. 

The lady on the bench awoke and approached the vehicle. She appeared to be the one in charge. She took me inside the building and had me sit down at the large table where all the meals were served. Where holes could be found in the wall, where a sometimes-functional TV sat. Where I visited with the only other person on campus, the cook. That high school Spanish class paid off as I spoke with the cook about the pollo and plantains she was frying for the children. I was shown around the small, steamy, non-air conditioned rooms where up to six boys shared a single room. 

This lady, the one who I thought was a homeless person sleeping on a bench? She was the gal who runs the orphanage in Honduras. As I delivered the homemade pillowcases I had sewn for the kids, I wished I had made ones for the adults, too. The level of poverty I found at this orphanage is beyond description. 

The thing about poverty is that you really can't understand it, even when you see it. And just because someone looks to be homeless doesn't mean they don't bring value to others' lives. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

One and Done

It’s not often I say I’ll never do something again. But today I ran across one of those things.

Two years ago I was a mobility-scooter bound person. During that time I remember a visit to Leavenworth, Washington on a hot summer day. My biggest thrill of the day was being able to take my scooter down to the river and put my feet in the water. Even took a picture of it.

I also took another picture that day that has been stuck in my mind ever since. I saw someone stand up paddle boarding. I remember thinking that while I would have loved to try it, I would never be able to do something like that. Scooter, one working lung, bad knees. Odds were so far against me.

But I didn’t give up on that dream and today in the warm waters of the Bahamas that never-gonna-happen dream came to fruition.

Was I scared? Absolutely terrified.
Was it difficult? So much harder than I could have ever imagined. One of the most difficult physical (and mental) things I have ever done.
Could I balance without my son-in-law holding the board? No way.
Did I fall? Lots of times.
Was I graceful? Nope, not a bit.
Will I ever do it again? Heck, no.

Check that one off my 50 by 50 list.