Thursday 16 January 2014
Mid afternoon I travelled by car to the food store - driven there by some of the workers at the convent. Safe in the front seat and everything in full view. It's always a great experience travelling through the streets in congestion like you've never seen in Britain. The streets are chocker. Walking is quicker, though hazardous, on foot you're vulnerable, and you need to be acutely aware of all that is going on around you, whereas in car you are cocooned and it's safe to watch in wonder taking in the full panorama. Cars, vans, pick-ups in all conditions and hoards of people too line these streets selling, buying and weaving through one another. The colours mixed with grime and rubbish are mesmeric and kaleidoscopic. One scene morphs in to another, shapes overlap, entwined and underpinned, people and bikes and barrows weaving rapidly through unfolding scenes of chaos and heat - these are the world's poor but they have as much pride and dignity as anyone regardless of what they lack. As I become more and more familiar with this place I am less shocked by the obvious disparity between here and home. I am desperate to appreciate what I know to be true, and know is hidden from first sight; they grapple with such poverty with the greatest resilience and acceptance. Of course all of them hate the discomfort, the injustice of poverty - and they know it what they lack and know what they have lost as a nation - but there is an acceptance and a peace also, and their great character shines through the grime and the squalor and the pain of it all. Adversity has this effect on human nature - and extreme conditions bring people together with welded solidarity. Patience must prevail in these circumstances otherwise the misery becomes overpowering and all-consuming - and might finish you off. This must be true for all kinds of suffering - it requires a positive response. Of course it hurts. But to see that all is not lost and that endurance must prevail for the immediate is a survival instinct. And there must always be hope, whatever we are faced with. A knowledge or belief that things will get better - however long it takes.