Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"For most of history, Anonymous was a woman" - Virginia Woolf

This woman is anonymous.

Other than the wonderful organization, Reencontro, which is providing what help they can, there is nobody taking responsibility for the tragedy that befell her and her family.

She was the victim of a sort of freak accident. A weapons factory exploded from the heat and devastated everyone in its wake. Her baby, who was strapped to her, was blown off her back. She sustained very serious and extremely painful injuries to her leg. Her baby survived but suffered injuries to her brain that will impact her ability for normal mental growth.

I asked if the government provided any assistance to this woman and her family. Clearly that would make sense given the nature of the tragic incident. Unfortunately, she was not given any support and she had no means for legal recourse. I was baffled by this. How can the government not give anything to this family and all of the victims of that tragedy? Shouldn't they be held accountable in some way, given that it was a government warehouse? The answer was simply "no".

She is raising her three children in extreme poverty without the ability to earn income for her family. Her injuries are still quite serious. She showed me her damaged leg and it looked so painful and seriously infected. (I took a picture of it but honestly the picture is so graphic and upsetting that I can't post it.) Medical care for her is very difficult to come by and out of the question financially. Her husband died of AIDS so there is nobody to provide them with an income.

The only hope they have is that they are part of the Reencontro family and get some basic necessities. Also, Reencontro has built them a new home which they will soon move into. As I observed, their current home was not fit for living in. It had one very small room that had a bed which they all shared (there are 3 children) and next to that a tiny hole with a pot on it that served as the kitchen. I thought how unsafe it was to have this open flame right next to where they sleep.

When the mother was telling us her story, she broke down in tears several times. She told us that she can't even walk in her neighborhood because when people see her they turn away knowing that she is there to beg for food. It was so hard to hear her tell us her daily struggles knowing that there was little I could say to give her hope. In fact, there was nothing I could say. That was the most difficult realization I have had.

We stand, as it were, on the shore, and see multitudes of our fellow beings struggling in the water, stretching forth their arms, sinking, drowning, and we are powerless to assist them. (Felix Adler)

While I feel very inspired by the work we are doing and also by the generous donations that I am able to give to these individuals and organizations I am meeting with, there are moments when the situation becomes overwhelming and the challenges feel nearly impossible to overcome.

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