A picture of Shada

I leave you with this picture of a slum called Shada. You can see how the awe-inspiring landscape is made even stranger with the addition of ad-hoc structures and a sea of trash. As one doctor said… we all know that places like this exist, but don’t really contemplate it fully until we are walking the alleys of broken concrete and sheet metal. As a storyteller, I’m conflicted about what role images of poverty this powerful should play. It think it’s easy to see this and think it’s a dream… some alternate reality where people live ten to a room next to open sewers. I often find myself falling into the same trap when my vision of a visit to a place is mainly through a viewfinder.

What made Shada real for me was playing an evolving game with a gaggle of joyful, shoeless kids who didn’t speak my language. We played catch with some piece of plastic junk, then wall ball, then bloody knuckles, then they taught me different high fives (the entire time obviously making fun of me in Kreyol). Trying to think of these rascals spending their childhood playing games on the banks of this inlet of trash is the only way Shada seems to exist in the same world I do. At our nice American style hotel I thought of this as the A/C hummed and I was clean from the shower and some part of me was longing to file this picture under D for dream.


1 Comment

  1. Jessie and Steven Thomsen
    June 22, 2011

    Wow Dan, I just read all your entries about Haiti and it makes me wish I was there. You have a great way of putting down in words how beauty, joy, and heart-wrenching sadness can go hand in hand so frequently in a place like this. I always makes me sad that so many americans never get to see and experience places like this….and even more disturbing, never want to. It never fails to make the american existence seem a little luke-warm and watered-down.
    In answer to your question, yes I am hoping to be going back to kenya next April with st. john fisher, although nothing is set in stone. The phoebe house remains a tricky, frustrating situation, but I have far from abandoned it. I think about those kids all the time. We are trying to learn more about successful orphanages and sustainability as we brainstorm about how to proceed. Jim is, of course, never far from my thoughts, and I only hope I can eventually do something great with the passion and enthusiasm he instilled in me.
    Let us know when you and Erin are back in the US. I would love to see you guys again, maybe sometime this summer!!
    tuta onana!
    Jess Thomsen

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