December 17, 2016

real emotional trash, more very short stories

Welly well well. It looks like another dead sea scrolls post that I've found squirreld away. This one written sometime in 2011 or 2012. I don't remember any of the context that went into it, though judging by the cynicism toward international aid it probably came late in my service.

I'm sitting outside the parish right now thinking. It's cool, a rain is coming. I hear young boys yelling as they play football in front of the primary school. It's dusk. Mosquitoes nip at my feet and the parish cat is licking my arm. Somewhere a baby is crying. I can't write now...I don't know how to start.

International aid and charity artificially incentivize destitution while presupposing that impoverished countries cannot solve their own problems sans outside assistance. If you prefer a fine balance  between brevity and depth you can try this New Yorker article (about a 20 minute read). The long form of that argument can be found in several books like White Man's Burden by William Easterly or Michael Maren's polemic Road to Hell.

I live in a rural trading center. The main drag is a single road dotted with homemade brick buildings and tin roofs. The population is probably around 8,000. There is no electricity though several shops have solar panels hooked up to car batteries. There are three small generators in the center owned by businessmen to power two refrigerators, three televisions, and a twice weekly dance hall. As a "volunteer", I may be one of the wealthiest people in the township. The surrounding area is scattered with homesteads, clustered mud huts with grass thatch organized by extended-family units.

People that live in mud huts are usually referred to as "villagers" by my teaching colleagues and typically have one change of clothes and eat one meal a day. They plant and harvest their crops by hand. They don't wear shoes but they sometimes wear sandals made of re-purposed tires.

On the dusty ride home I saw a village woman with her face smashed in. She was bleeding and staggering down the road being led by another woman. We zipped by. One hundred meters down the road was an intoxicated uninjured man staggering in the opposite direction. What had happened in the just recent past crystallized in my mind. And we zipped by.

Ricky Rubio broke his ankle or tore his ACL or something like that. He's done for the season.

While walking to school today I cut through the primary school and came across one of my students from last year. She's a teacher at the school now, teaching math. She was proud and I was proud and it's because that's something to be proud of.

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