Hi little married munch,
I feel bad for my slow blog response. I can’t believe the last time you posted was August!!! I’m so sorry. I’m the one who has been holding it up. As I mentioned to you on the phone, I had first started a post about how I tried to be less judgmental during 2016. It was this whole nice post about personal growth and goals for 2017. But then Trump got inaugurated and I felt my whole world turn upside down. In a matter of a day, I suddenly left like I didn’t matter. My individual, personal goals didn’t matter. In one day, we were thrust into a new world order where all that mattered was fighting the government for those who have less, for those who will truly suffer under Trump’s leadership. My personal goals seemed frivolous when our country, and the world around it, was crumbling.
I have believed that America is the greatest country on earth. And I have believed that because we are formed of immigrants. When you get on the train in this country, you see people of all backgrounds, all skin colors, all walks of life, working to make their lives fruitful. America is great because we take the best from other countries and allow them to flourish.
When I come back to America from wherever I travel, I feel a deep, deep sense of relief to see all different hued people living together, working side by side. It’s not ideal, it’s not equal, but it is the best demonstration of diversity and inclusivity I have ever seen of any country.
When Trump threatens our diversity and our openness to others, the very thing that makes us great, when he tells Syrian children that they should throw away their hopes, when he tells countries that desperately need educated doctors that no, your people cannot be educated here, he is tearing the world down, one dream and one individual at a time.
The plan Trump is implementing for America not only takes away what makes us great, but it also effects the entire world. It effects people desperately seeking safety, those seeking higher education so that they can lift their own countries out of poverty, and those seeking new opportunities. Trump’s strategy puts a damper on our entire world.
Two days ago I visited Kolahun Hospital in the north of Liberia. According to the IMF, Liberia is the fourth poorest country in the world. It is obvious. In Kolahun Hospital, there is only one doctor. This hospital serves three districts in this extremely rural area. After the doctor, the next man in charge is a registered nurse. I spoke to him while we were there. He saw the first Ebola patient; he still remembers his name. He told me that he loves his country. He has seen it suffer and is determined to see it succeed. He said he wants to go to America to get his MD so he can come back and serve his people. Trump is crushing dreams like these. Dreams that only help the world become stronger.
And of course, there’s climate change. By ignoring climate change, Trump has sealed the world’s death letter.
Climate change is here. And it’s terrifying.
In Washington DC this winter, it flurried once. It’s been 70 and sunny day after day. When I wake up to find another spring-like day, a tingling sense of dread rises from the depths of my stomach. I am terrified of what climate change will bring us.
But as an educated white woman in Washington, DC, I don’t really need to worry about that much for myself. I, mostly likely, will be ok.
But here in Liberia, climate change has severe consequences.
The rain, they say here, is coming “so soon” this year, so soon. While I’ve been here, I’ve been through a few rain storms. When the rain comes, it thunders viciously down, pounding the tin roofs of the shack houses. High speed winds tear through them. While I was in the rural areas, there was an unexpected storm which was particularly bad. A few houses, an education director I spoke with told me, were ruined.
But more than the houses, it is the roads. Roads are the veins of a society, pumping the essentials for life into a nation. Food from farms to towns, trips to the hospital, visits to the bank, all this relies on roads. In rural Liberia, where most of the country lives, there are barely any roads. Those that do exist are unpaved, carved with pits and traversable only by Land Rovers or motorcycles. The people say the roads are “deplorable,” and it’s a perfect description.
Because of the lack of roads, it takes a person one hour to travel four miles by motorbike during the dry season.
But during the rainy season, the roads become mud trenches. They are nearly impassable. Trucks get swallowed in these mud pits. When this happens, the driver and all those on board shovel themselves out, leaving the road even more torn up for vehicles behind them.
We have been visiting hospitals and schools this week. As I mentioned before, Kolahun Hospital is one of the hospitals we visited. It serves three districts. It has one ambulance, an SUV with huge tires. When there is an emergency, that car travels down those mud trenches, spending hours to get to a destination maybe only 10 miles away. Even once the ambulance is close by, there may not be any roads to the exact location. What does this mean for hospitals? Patients unnecessarily die from causes that could have been cured.
The north of the country, where I am, used to be the bread basket of Liberia, but because of the road conditions, trucks can no longer transport food from the north to the south where the capital city is. Economic growth, which these people desperately need, has been stymied.
Visits to the banks, where teachers and health care workers pick their salaries up, take days, which means that teachers and health care workers leave their places of work to pick up their salaries, letting their students and patients suffer.
The rain, they say, is coming so soon. Too soon. Unusually soon.
I think of how climate change effects my life in DC. I will miss the snow.
I think of how it effects people in these villages. They can’t even consider climate change or the environment. This entire region has no electricity. None. Not even the cities. If you are lucky enough, you have a generator or a solar panel, which you use at night. This region has no running water. You pump your water from the village pump. There are 250 to one hand pump. If you are lucky, there are 150 to one hand pump. People here are focused on finding food for the day, on surviving. They don’t have time to think of climate change, and the fact that America is poisoning the earth. All they know is that the rain is coming too soon, and what it means for them is hardship. More months of hardship.
It pains me to think that we, the West, are poisoning the planet, and others, these faceless others in places far away, are the ones that will suffer.
Trump has turned our worlds upside down, but more than us, he is hurting those at the bottom of society most. Those who are fortunate, like us, need to help those who are less fortunate. How can we sit around in our privilege while others, because of some random accident of birth, suffer.