Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Over the last two weeks there was a lot to get done before going away from Hoi An to avoid some of the extreme summer heat and humidity which causes me to feel very weak and faint. There were many home visits to do of children CEF sponsors, a meeting with the children from the Danang project and new children to meet who are scattered around Quang Nam who we were requested to see due to their dire situations. The requests were still coming in while I was sitting in Ho Chi Minh airport waiting for my flight out.
As well as those work commitments I needed to make sure I had everything organized for my daughter and her partner to look after the house and the animals. There were some last minute repairs to make and bills to pay and money to leave for forthcoming bills; all those normal things one has to do before going away.
Requests were made to visit 4 little girls whose parents had died and now lived in pagodas. One family we were asked to visit urgently lived in a small country town and they had no income. The neighbors made food donations to the family as they could afford it. The mother had died of brain cancer three months after giving birth to a baby boy. The fathers day were absorbed with just caring for the little baby and his six year old daughter. He had no chance to go out to earn money. In another family the mother also was dying from brain cancer and her daughter was in attendance. The husband-father was out working,looking for whatever work he could on one of her good days.
Over the days of home visits we talked about and reassessed families we had been helping. Some were better off this year but most weren't. With inflation increasing life for the poor has become even harder. Incomes in families varied from nothing to the occasional good income after a few weeks of laboring and most average incomes had dropped.
When I returned home to pay bills and organize funds for the payments that needed to be made while I was away, I felt nauseated as if I would be ill any minute. I felt restless and uncomfortable. Then I realized it was the extreme contrast after nearly two weeks of immersion in dire situations and poverty. The contrast of their bills and my bills was huge. I was left wondering what I could do about it that made sense. There was little I could think of and immersed myself in sorting and eliminating my worldly goods, giving them away to Vietnamese friends and to pagodas where they would give them to people who went there for help. I realized how easily I accumulated and that I needed to give much more attention to what I did buy. I realized that I wasted food. If I wanted to go out to eat I did even when there was food in the fridge that needed eating. I had a fridge - a luxury item in Vietnam. I hadn't seen one in any homes we visited.
I paid bills and organized funds for bills and had a meeting about micro finance. That was one way we could help some of the families we are already helping. But one of the things I realized was how incredibly blessed I was. How I had such abundance in my life. I also had choices - many choices. So often I get caught up in my personl challenges instead of seeing how blessed I am.
Sometimes I am exhausted from the challenges of working and living in Vietnam. I don't seem to have a tough enough skin and temperament. But I still want to do what I can to continue to help others with challenging lives and find ways to help each in a relevent way.
Someone famous, maybe Jesus or Buddha, said we should not compare ourselves to others as it can make us feel miserable, and it can make us feel special and superior. I feel the occasional objective comparison can be healthy and help us be aware of how blessed we each are. I truly feel blessed with good friends and wonderful family,delicious food to eat, devoted pets and a lovely home to live in with more than enough food and clothes. In the west I am judged as poor but I am neither rich nor poor in the material sense, but feel very rich.
Each little thing I do for others makes a difference; not just to them but to me as well as we are all one, not separate.