Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I Bless The Rains...

I hear the drums echoing tonight,
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation,
She's coming in 12:30 flight,
The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation.


I'm overwhelmed.

I've only seen one tiny sliver of the Dark Continent. Just one portion of one city. Yet, I'm amazed, inspired and overwhelmed at the same time. Much of it seemed so familiar. Yet, much of it was very different. It's like a conundrum and I'm still trying to sort out my thoughts and experiences.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

From what I've been told, Addis and Ethiopia are vastly different than the rest of Africa. Almost an enigma unto itself where the life and people are different than everywhere else on the continent.

Strangely enough, I found Addis to be very familiar - very similar in character to Manila. It was almost as if I was back in Manila with it's crazy (to Americans) juxtapositions of extreme poverty to grand wealth, suffering to partying, Coke to Pepsi - except for the manic lack of McDonald's, credit cards and ATMs, Addis could have been Manila.

Just like the other Developing Nations I've visited, there's lots of poverty to be seen stark naked on the streets of Addis. Both the maimed and the children ply the streets asking for hand outs. Girls work the clubs to make extra cash. The rich and connected act with little regard for everyone else. Westerners don't drink the water and don't drink drinks with ice. Coke is served near room temperature.

I've spent quite some time away from America and its' luxuries of refrigerated meats and plush surroundings but my visit to Africa made me wonder if I've truly accepted the world for how it is or just have become a cold hearted bastard.

I no longer feel the tug on my heart strings when a poor child comes up to the car window begging for money dirty and disheveled. I don't really acknowledge the maimed crawling along the street by his arms. Am I callous enough to blow them off without a second thought? Yes, I am.

Perhaps its' because I've seen it all before. The children, the maimed, the mothers and more taking it in the neck while my American dollars and United States Passport afford me greater luxuries than these people could ever dream of. You see it all around you and I wonder why it is that I no longer wonder: "how can people live like this?" I know they do because they have no choice.

Some of my friends seemed to have trouble with Africa and the way things are there. Too Americanized, I thought. Too used to a life of luxury in the First World. But maybe that's too easy. Will they go back and work to change the plight of people in the Third World? No, probably not. It will be easier for them to return to the United States, forget about their discomfort and get back on with their lives.

But more importantly, will I change their plight? A person whose travelled through the world, seen how poorly some people are forced to live and have come to accept that children will be forced to beg in the street? Will my acceptance of how the world is augur change?

I'm sad to say the answer is no.

No comments: