It's not OK.

I was asked recently about my trip to Haiti last month. Sometimes it's hard to answer this question. What makes it even more difficult is how long I've been going to Haiti. My reactions to things aren't the same as they were on my first and second trip. I try to see the immediate need, but look at how to make a difference in the bigger picture.

When answering this question about my trip, this one moment stood out to me the most. I was walking into our guesthouse which is located on the second floor of our friends home. The home was reorganized to be an orphanage for handicap children a couple years back. After the earthquake, the children and workers were to scared to live upstairs, so all 29 of them moved downstairs to sleep. There isn't enough space for the beds, so many of the children sleep on a mattress on the floor. But there isn't even enough room for each of the children to have their own mattress, so two to three children sleep on one mattress on the floor.

No sheets.

No pillow.

No space.

No blanket. (not that they really want one of those.)

The kids sleep on each other. Limbs hang off the mattresses, in some cases just the child's head is on the mattress, because the rest of it is taken up by other children. To get upstairs where we sleep you have to carefully tip toe around all the bodies on the floor. The first time I did this, my heart sank for these sweet little people. Bodies that already struggle with disability and pain, now aren't receiving the proper rest they need because they sleep half their body on concrete and the half on a shallow, thin mattress.

I looked at the person behind me and commented on how sad this situation was. Their response was, "At least is something. It's better than nothing." and continued on.

Its better than nothing.

Those that had no mattress before we would be very thankful for one.
Those who had no meal, would be grateful for leftovers.
Those who had no clothes would probably accept shoes with holes.
Those who have no house would accept a tarp with sticks.
Those who have no drink would accept contaminated water.

Yes, in most cases, something is better than nothing. The one receiving the gift is generally very grateful. They praise God for looking out for them, for providing for their very basic needs. Gifts are received with a grateful heart and all honor given to God. However, just because they are thankful, and it is more than they had before, that should not be the standard of acceptance for those of us who have more.

All I kept thinking was, if its not OK for me, than its not OK for them. It's NOT OK to drink contaminated water. It's NOT OK to eat dirt pie. It's NOT OK to not have enough food and nutrition. It's NOT OK to not have a chance of school and a future. It's NOT OK to be sleeping on the floor night after night after night when your body is broken and needs rest.

I want to be clear. When I am I speaking of standards of living I do not mean a cushy bed and 300 thread count sheets, a house in burbs, a closet full of clothes, even a car. We can and in most cases should live with a lot less. I am speaking purely of good and decent human needs being met. Food, basic clothing, clean water, an education, a roof over your head to protect against the elements, a faith family and community that can help you, and people to love.

As the people who have more opportunity and resources, what right do we have to say, "At least its something?" That communicates to me, that we have done enough. We don't have to be affected by this. We don't have to invest and let their stories in. I can't be affected by this. I can't see it for what it is; injustice against humanity. If I see it for what it really is then my eyes will be open and I'll have to do something about it. If I can see how wrong it really is, than my lifestyle and choices will be questioned. I will have to decide if it is OK for me to live my life and have others live in injustice.

Huh. At least its better than nothing. I don't believe that kind of attitude will bring hope and love and change to the systems that keep some in poverty. I hope as people of resources we can strive for much more. We can respect our fellow man kind by dreaming bigger for them. Working for more for them, and not settling for less.

If it's not OK for you, it's not OK for them.