Day three. Tough to put everything to words. We did a lot of work setting up the clinic. I’m slightly nervous or excited about tomorrow. Over a thousand people will show up. We did my favorite thing- worshiped with singing for over 1 hour. In the morning we attended the service at the makeshift church. As it was in Creole,I did not understand most of it. Some I made do with my limited knowledge of French. I recorded some of the singing during the service and it was awesome, very joyful. Kids swarmed about us today, asking for things. One wanted my camera, another my sunglasses, still another my hat. I plan to give a lot of things away on my return but not those three- the hat because it is not mine to give.
The poverty doesn't shock me- I've seen similar levels of lack in India. But the fact that nearly everyone seems poor is unsettling. In India both fabulous wealth and grinding poverty are easily visible, and it is easy to see that the society is truly mixed. Not so much here. The rich are far away in enclaves of their own, but I was told that the land this village sits on, including the rectory, school, and the church we are building, are all owned by rich people who let all this happen. All the land is owned. I wonder how all this happens. If in a country there are 7 million people, and only a handful of people own all the land there is, surely this must have come about in a devious manner. How could people be dispossessed of land except by force? Surely these people must have land from the past to lay claim to.
But of course, from Gary Haugen’s writings and others like Paul Farmer and Tracy Kidder, we know how this happens. The same story in every single third world country. Mounting debts, paying it off through unfair labor practices or some other means of giving up fundamental rights. Nothing new under the sun.