My deepest gratitude goes out to the people of the Coahoma, Lafayette and Bolivar counties for sharing their inspiring stories. I don’t think there is really much for me to say. It is not about me. I can’t articulate the stories for them.
See what they had to say:
” People are trying to breath, they are grasping for air, they are searching for some hope and they have to leave Cleveland.”
” Young men go to jail so much because they’re bored. There’s nothing to do. Instead of parks and basketballs. It’s more liquor stores and cash checks”
” Poverty is not just financial it’s not just emotional, it’s a way of life. ”
” Lack of health care, unemployment, they all are the ingredients to the mixture of poverty. ”
” The numbers do tell you things, but I’ve learned today, what you need to do is sit and talk about what the numbers mean. ”
” If all I’ve never known is struggling or making single income, then that is a way of life for me.”
” In the schools children are eating mystery meat… For a child if those are the only meals for the day, there’s no nutritional value to that. How does that affect their ability to learn in the classroom? In order for your brain to thrive you have to have nourishment ”
” After a 6 hour day you’re gone. At 1 o’clock your body is there but your mind is gone without nourishment.”
I would like to offer a little interpretation. The data tells one story: of low education, of all around under developed communities. But talking and interacting with the people of these communities tells a whole different story. It shows the contentment and gratitude, the resilience and the ambition they maintain despite having so little. The only reason they are defined as underdeveloped is not because of their intellectual or emotional capacity rather because the circumstances they grew up in. Take a moment to appreciate all the comforts that you grew up with (for many of us promised food, education, family) because some people don’t even know what that security feels like.
What we think is a problem. Isn’t. Our problem is someone else’s blessing. It’s all relative. Its one thing to get this understanding from a lecture, or a book. It’s another to be intimately in presence with it, to be moved by their voice for passion, to hear their desire for change, to be brought to tears from their voice of struggle. Take some time to deeply listen to not only yourself but others as well. They all have profound stories to tell, the question is are we listening? Listen close enough and you may find out we aren’t so different after all.