Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Poor at My Door

It's a holiday here. FS is off for 4 days in a row with the equivalent of Christmas Day being tomorrow in this part of the world. So even though we were planning to spend most of the day taking advantage of the time to clean out cobwebs and cabinets, we were having a slow start to the day. I was still in my pajamas when Hannah called, "Mom, there's a girl at the door." We love the fact that while when our kitchen door is open, it's open to the world at large and anyone COULD come to the door, but that they usually don't. It makes a small space seem larger to have the door open to the balcony for fresh air and a view of tree branches right outside. While one side of our building is on a very busy lane, the side with our door is off of a courtyard and 3 flights up a spiral staircase. Not many venture up unless they know us.

But here was a girl of about 12 standing just inside our door this morning. I've seen her before on the main road begging with a pack of other children. Her face, hair, and clothes were all a similar color of grime. She comes across as a little too bold, but it's understandable by the look of never having enough to eat in her eyes.

I asked in her language what she wanted and she said, "My father is dead and I am hungry." I turned to get a pack of biscuits from the cabinet because we do that instead of giving money. Biscuits she would probably eat herself but who knows who money would go to. When I turned back around a young woman was standing there as well with a baby in her arms. Both girls ducked their heads around the door taking in as much of our living area as possible. The thought crossed my mind that they were casing out our house and my mother's instinct took hold. While our flat here is fairly secure, I remember the trauma of our kids waking up in Fiji knowing that someone had robbed the house while we slept. I don't want them to experience that or worse again.

I asked the women how old the baby was. She said she didn't know. I asked again to be sure we understood each other and she said the same thing, confirming in my mind that they were part of a group of beggars because the baby obviously wasn't her own. While I'm sure they were partly just curious to look into a foreigner's house, they also would quite likely tell other desperate people what they saw inside. While we live simply by western standards, we would live like kings to these girls.

Hannah was headed out to buy food for us at the nearby bazaar so she kindly said she'd take them along as well and get them something else to eat. But while she got money and our marketing bag, I shut the door---with them on the other side.

Two things were warring within me. One is that no matter how someone here looks on the outside, and that can be pretty bad, I try to see them each day as who they are in Him. I try to see them as a human being with a soul.

My other thought was that I had just treated those girls not like a person to be cherished. I had treated them like an 'it'.

I thew on some clothes and started cleaning kitchen cabinets with my iPod in my ears to block out the religious chanting on a loudspeaker going on outside. The song began to play:

"Something here is wrong. There are children without homes.
But we just move along to take care of our own.
There's so much suffering just outside our door.
A cry so deafening. Oh, we just can't ignore.

All the people who are fighting for the broken.........keep changing the world."

This is a band that I know is trying to make a difference. After all they've purchased bags from FS with their group's logo on it! But today I thought, "I'm glad they are singing that, but it's not so black and white as in a song."

I don't have the answers. There's nothing I can do but muddle along and figure it out as I go. And I often can't think quickly enough in the middle of something to find a solution. I just wish I'd done a little better today......

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