Back from my third world country visit
Flew home from Palm Springs Friday night. Caught up on a little sleep yesterday. Surprisingly, all of my flights (four in total) ran on time with little waiting on the runway! It was great.
The trip to the desert was awesome and I wished I had taken the option to fly back on Saturday, so I would have had another day there. I got some great pictures. I might share a few here tomorrow.
I visited the Salton Sea, which I think is the largest inland salt water lake in the U.S. It’s an environmental disaster and, boy, could you tell by the smell. From the look, though, it is a gorgeous body of water attracting lots of species of birds. (According to Wikipedia, it supports 30 percent of the world’s white pelican population.) It was really beautiful to see, especially considering it could be gone in the next decade. You can read about it with the link above.
I visited some of the people the sisters I work for minister to. It was really fun. These people are just so charming and full of life. I can’t really explain the conditions in which they live. It’s rough. Often, when I see these places, I think a lot of these people would be in healthier circumstances if they just lived in a tent. Of course, when you have nearly nothing, hanging on to what you do have seems very important.
It’s so rough to see the shantytowns where they live and know that for the cost of some unnecessary bridge being built somewhere, rebuilding a high-rise out of sentimental reasons, or the salaries of Congress for a year, we could build safe, affordable housing for all of these people in the desert. And these are good, hard-working people who provide our food and who aren’t looking for a handout. I’m not sure why we can’t achieve that. Why aren’t we able to value all human life? Why aren’t we able to treat our hardworking citizens of the world better? Why aren’t we able to just guarantee basic human needs – food, water and shelter – for everyone, when we have such an incredible abundance in this world?
There is a myth that exists among large numbers of Americans that people in the poorest conditions in our world somehow put themselves there. We’ve all heard – or even said – that some person, who we perceive as lazy and sucking resources from the government, just needs to get a job. What I have found, time and time again in my work with the sisters, is that all of the people I encounter through their work HAVE jobs. They have really hard, sucky jobs. And they don’t complain about it – they appreciate the jobs they have. They take the thankless, difficult, back-breaking, life-shortening jobs that most people overlook. And when you think about the jobs they have, they are part of the massive infrastructure that keeps us moving and put together: farm workers, food service, trash removal, housekeeping, construction, road workers, even child care workers.
I’m not saying this is true of everyone. I’ve certainly met people in my life who were just working the system. But the reality is, that’s actually a small portion of the people out there. Furthermore, the people in greatest need are the ones who don’t ask for help. Pride, fear or lack of information prevents them from getting help.
It’s just startling to me how important these workers are to us and how very invisible their plight is to the world.
I want to encourage you to take a look at the video Third World California. I have a copy if you’d like to borrow it. It’s is about the migrant farm families of the Coachella Valley, which is where I was.