Friday, August 8, 2008

Shot through the heart at Costco

As I walked into Costco today, I could hear the singing and drumming coming from the breezeway in front of the building. As I came closer I could see a large group of children singing and dancing, They were the Singing Children of Africa and they were singing to benefit the Samson Chivatsi African Appeal, an organization that is feeding, educating, and housing many children in their village called Utange in Kenya. I listened, I donated a few dollars for their brochure and then I walked in to Costco with my giant cart to begin my shopping. As I walked in and saw all of the TVs and electronics, I had a fleeting thought about what those kids might think if they were to come in the building. Then a few moments later, I saw them! They were taking a tour of Costco, an employee was pointing out the meat department and telling them of the cleanliness of the kitchen and the butcher equipment. Then he started talking about catering, then he was pointing out the mountains of water bottles stacked to the ceiling, and saying how people here love bottled water and buy a lot of it....

I suddenly felt very sick, very embarrassed, very ashamed... very sad. I rushed to another aisle to get away from them, and had to keep moving till they were out of my sight and out of my earshot. I couldn't take it. I stood there next to the sky scraping stacks of toilet paper, and burst into tears. I just couldn't imagine what they could be thinking. How do you go from extreme poverty, no food, no clean water, no sanitation, never having been in a car, going for years just praying for an education, watching your family and neighbors die from diseases that they cannot get treatment for... to the other side of the world... to Costco! I was so embarrassed as I stood there with piles of meat and fruit and giant what-nots in my cart. I wanted to leave my cart and leave the building and go home. I just cried.

These children sing of hope and the future and they praise God every chance they get for their many blessing... what?

How can a child live in a mud hut that washes away in the rainy season, watch their parents die because of insufficient medical care, go many days starving and thirsty and dirty and sit outside a school and beg to be let in to learn... think that God loves them?

I don't get it. I believe that God loves all of his children, but I don't understand how entire countries can be in such need. How do they know God loves them? I can understand faith and hope and prayer... but how could it not be shattered after walking into a Costco in the US and seeing everyone trotting around with enormous carts full of enormous food? Someone please help me understand how God can let this happen, for so long?

Nothing against Costco, I shop there and I find that it helps me spend less and stay closer to my budget, I'm just saying that I couldn't handle being seen by these kids. I don't even know what they were thinking, or if they were comparing at all, or if they were happy or sad or in disbelief, or if they were just plain angry (I think I would be). These children are on tour for about 17 days, then they go back to their orphanages, back to their very poor village, back to porridge.

Now, I know that these particular children are quite lucky to be sponsored by the charity, and probably have very bright futures ahead of them, and like we've talked about before... they're education effects the entire community. It was just such a huge eye-opener, I didn't quite know what to do or how to react.

I know that guilt is the wrong emotion, and that it is not my fault that I can get groceries easily and have clean water to drink and ... and that they do not have these same opportunities... however I sort of felt like them seeing me with my cart was a little too 'in your face". Am I making any sense?

I need to do more. I need to do something. I realize that the people of Africa have been on my mind all week, with the Matsiko Children's Choir on Monday, the letter from Renee's friend about Mother's Without Borders on Wednesday and now the Singing Children of Africa on Friday. I have to do something. I'll start with prayer for understanding of how this can be, and hope that you all can help me to understand also. I'm going to do something. Please do something.


The Cundick 5 said...

Seems like someone is trying to send us the same message??? I am in a sort of guilt feeling mode too. After watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies last night (while crying) thinking of all the nations who are so so poor, at war, and lets not forget the "communist" thing I was moved to do something but what? *My hubby thinks I am too emotional over things that I can't help* I want to help someone somewhere and really make a difference. I sit here today feeling sad and helpless but that's not right I need to act but how? UGGG, I hate feeling like I can't make a difference, let's put our heads together and maybe we can come up with something....

Anonymous said...

Lisa- In college when I was doing my summer service project I had a similar crying breakdown when driving back from one of the reservations in Wyoming where I had spent the weekend with some of "my kids" (I worked at a neighborhood center in Denver that summer) Sometimes it just all really hits you.

There are great organizations out there doing great work- we're personally involved with Food for the Poor, Heifer International, and Doctors without Borders and I can recommend all of them as groups you might want to support, but please keep me posted on others you find....

We're so lucky in so, so many ways. Z's godmother Ann- you might have met her last weekend- works with Doctors without Borders and her post was in north Ethiopia- sometime I'll share some of her experiences with you.