Wednesday, September 23, 2009
We reap what we sow
A 'few' years ago, while in college in Flagstaff, Arizona, I took a crisis intervention course in order to volunteer as a victim advocate with the police. It was where I not only met one of my best friends and confidants, Thome, but also how I became introduced to the idea of "crisis intervention" . Growing up, I was not a stranger to certain crisis', however it was still not the norm of my experience. During this 5-week intensive training, I learned about everything from domestic violence to homemade drug labs through first response teams composed of police officers, detectives, lawyers and victim advocates.
Now that I live and work in a developing country, I am learning the true meaning of crisis. People say, around here, that it will only get worse with our current economic and political instability.
A friend, who moved to the island when she was a young adult and has lived here for about 14 years, pointed out that we live in a state of almost constant emergency. When I look back at the time I have been here, it seems she raises a valid point. We can begin by mentioning the sporadic and regular power outages, throughout the island. Furthermore, a year ago, the Minister of Education threatened to close schools altogether due to the shameful and gross loss of school days caused by union-led teacher strikes or government created lapsing in the payment of teacher salaries. There, at this same time last year, had been a loss of about 100 days of class. The Ministry entertained the idea of making every Honduran public school student repeat the entire year.
At the same time, the island's largest source of income, the cruise ship companies, like Norwegian and Carnival, threatened to never port here again because of the primitive road blocks and street protests, arguing against the 400% hike in electricity charges on consumers. We had to close school for a day then, because the roads were blocked by either groups of unorganized rioters or union teachers.
Then the rainy season hit. Roads washed away and there was a heightened threat of diseases like malaria and dengue fever with the huge amounts of stagnated, dirty water in densely populated areas. Don't worry, these diseases are treatable and not as uncommon as one would think in the 21st century.
No hurricanes, and that is a blessing.
After returning from the States for Christmas break, a luxury that most Hondurans can only dream of, there were more strikes with yet another increase in our electric bills. Then in May, we had the big earthquake, not too much damage though. Which takes us to our coup d'tat that we are still reeling from as our deposed president, Mel Zelaya, illegally entered the country yesterday and is hiding out in the U.S-backed Brasilian embassy in Honduras' capital city, Tegucigalpa. This coup has lead to halted international aid and tourism revenue as well as general mayhem in a country where there are more loaded guns than people who can read a newspaper. Not many people here in Honduras, citizen or not, are in favor of Zelaya, not even his own political party. In fact, Micheletti, our interim president was a member of Zelaya's party.
At a local level, the island is pretty far removed from the country's political chaos. When you are staring at turquoise water everyday with an incredible sunset, it is hard to focus on the turmoil. That being said, I have been more near to more crime during my life here, than anywhere else I have lived. There is much more, unfortunately, of the devastation that corruption and greed brings, but that is for another time.
This is not to be taken as a frightening rant, rather it is the evidence brought to life of a society where the masses are systematically denied education, employment and dreams. Because of these experiences, I truly believe that it is underduress that we learn the value of things and it is then that the truth is the only mechanism that will provide for our needs.