June 25, 2009

In Washington DC

In Washington DC at a national meeting, I ponder the diversity of humanity. My job as an outreach coordinator and liaison means that I find some common thread, some linkage to such a wide breadth of humanity, that even I at my late stage in life am baffled as my father used to say. I am first baffled at the way that US citizens simply believe that everything is so available to them that surely it is available to the world at large. Here I am, mentoring a person whose English speaking skills are minimal, but who is trying really hard. He is in the midst of 200 (small group) 5,000 (large group) folks who speak very quickly, and who expect that he can find his way oh so easily. He is reading everything but ever so pole pole. The crowd has moved on. At each turn a person whom I sit next to says, "wow" I have learned so much from you. Why? well because I mention that computers at home where there is no electricity, running water or hard floor, might not be the best use of resources, but don't mean that the person cannot be a good community person. He and I wend our way through the crowd. He is given a check and we have to find the bank to cash it. We get to the bank. He has not endorsed a check before! And today, they required a finger print from him. Thumb. Right. What is the kiswahili? thumb? I don't know...right...Kulia. What is the money for he asks and wants to wire it to Tanzania..... No I say. You have to buy your food with this money. Oh. All this money? Yes. Save what you can and you can carry it back. Oh, he says.

We find that Obama has read about our program in Tanzania. Does he love it like we do? Does he care? Does he know that this man is here, in a new country, without a clue, trying so hard to understand what is going on around him. A man whose wife deserted him, who won't let him see his two children, who was fired from his job, who is trying soo hard. I don't know. Obama cannot care about everyone. But surely says Thomas, he cares about us. Oh I hope so.