Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Week of Service

The bad news is that The Child's disposable camera broke so she doesn't have any photos of her trip. The good news is you can see and read some stuff here.

Before she left we'd watched "The Power of One", based on the book by Bryce Courtenay. This is the "school book" for High School; everyone - students, staff, teachers - have to read it this summer. (I know of other institutions that do this - I think it is superfantastic). Anypage, it's the story of an English boy born in South Africa and orphaned young. The story is about how his experiences shape his worldview and how he finds his own way of challenging the evils of apartheid. It's a fine film and does a decent job of depicting (among other things) the poverty of the shanty towns. But however powerfully images convey the hopelessness and heartbreak of such an existence, seeing it first-hand is something else, a something The Child now understands a bit better.

She's tried to describe it to me: the shock of seeing a family of 12 in a "house" no bigger than The Neighbor's family room, with "disgusting" communal bathrooms; the disparity of conditions from camp to camp. She told me that at one camp the conditions were "like a 4-star hotel" compared to some other places...mostly because the "houses" had satellite TV, their own bathroom and a tiny fridge and cooktop.

"And why was that place better than some of the other camps?"

"It all depends on the owner," she said. "Some of the farmers are a little nicer to their workers".

Yikes. Cram a family of 4 into a little house the size of my kitchen, pay 'em crap wages (because you can, because, you know, they're illegals) but feel better about yourself because you give them satellite TV.

Her van was the last to return home so I had some time to chat with the group leader. She told me what a delight The Child was, that she was a real trooper and always had a smile on her face. The Child caught a cold 2 days in so had to leave her "babies" in the daycare for work less susceptible to her contagion. She sorted donations, shoveled manure and mooshed fish guts for fertilizer. But according to J, she never complained and always dug in with a will. Trust, much as I wish I'd see a little more of that work ethic around here, knowing that she is capable of it out there in the world is a very nice, even hopeful, thing.

She had a great time with the other kids and mentioned how nice it was to be herself and present herself "in a new way" and be "accepted without any judgement". After the drama of her middle school class, it was exciting to her to realize that it really doesn't have to be like that and that there are plenty of people who are willing to accept her and like her as she is.

She was also really excited to sleep in her bed.

The stories and experiences are coming out in drips and dabs but there is a light in her eyes when she talks about the experience that sometimes says more than the words about the time she had. She's already looking forward to doing it again.

Oh, and when she got out of the van (looking like dirty little hippie chick) she came up to me, in front of God and everybody, and gave me a big hug. Right on.

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14 Comments:

Blogger danny/ink2metal opined...

sounds like miss d had an awesome life-changing experience.

i love how she took it all in and tried to be part of someone else's reality instead of just being an outsider looking in.

hugs, hugs, and more hugs

July 15, 2008 1:23 PM  
Blogger TWISI opined...

the child is growing up right before our eyes.... I don't know about you but it is making me feel old.

It also makes me feel proud that she is growing into such a fine young woman, it appears that the morals and examples of her parents are wearing off on her.

Kudos to them, they are doing a great job!

July 15, 2008 4:46 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

She really did, Uncle Danny. And all sorts of hugs back to you.

You, my dear Twisi, are too kind. But it sure is nice to see this glimpses that maybe, just maybe she's going to turn out ok!

July 15, 2008 4:51 PM  
Blogger sageweb opined...

How great for her and you. I bet that experience has taught her sooo much. Stuff she won't even realize till later.

July 15, 2008 5:27 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Sage, I think you're so right about that...this is the kind of thing that plants a seed that will put down very deep roots.

July 15, 2008 7:22 PM  
Blogger LostInCO opined...

proud moments for you! What a sweet kid that child is.

July 16, 2008 7:17 AM  
Blogger Anne opined...

I guess you're busy, I've checked here twice today expecting a post about tonight's premier. There's a write-up in today's Washington Post about it but I haven't read it all yet. (was waiting for you!)

July 16, 2008 11:31 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Yes, Lost, the sorts of moments a mom tucks away in a little box in her heart forever and always. And which also have a soothing effect when less precious moments occur and the sweetness is temporarily missing in action.

July 16, 2008 11:31 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Oh, Anne, how funny. I was posting about not posting even as you were commenting about my not posting!

July 16, 2008 11:33 AM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann opined...

Rock on! I'm so glad she had a memorable and meaningful experience. Wish my mama had sent me on such a trip.

July 16, 2008 9:15 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

And yet, KA, you turned out pretty darned well.

July 16, 2008 11:00 PM  
Blogger Willym opined...

A new level of maturity and another layer of personality has been add to ... given the way she's behaving I hate to say the Child. And of course she hugged you, she is now more aware of how precious what she has is.

Hugs to all...

July 18, 2008 9:14 AM  
Blogger greeny opined...

Another big leap into adulthood. Bravo for her and for you all for being the thinking parents you are.

July 19, 2008 4:24 AM  
Blogger Miss Healthypants opined...

That's just awesome. :)

July 19, 2008 4:20 PM  

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