Saturday, July 28, 2007

my birthday and more

As always, i don't know where to start when i write these because there is simply too much to write and not enough time. first off- i am so happy here. i seriously don't want to go home because i feel like i am truly LIVING. i can't even say what all of this has meant to me.
a few recent highlights:
-yesterday we flew from owerri, nigeria to lagos, nigeria so that we could fly to ghana. we missed our flight and so we are in lagos for today and then fly out tomorrow night. the flight was AMAZING though. when we first flew into abuja it was night and so we really couldn't see anything. the view from the sky seriously took my breath away. there were rivers that winded like coils and green as far as the eye can see. the cities here are sparse and the rest is just green. i know i already talked about this in my last blog but it seriously is so beautiful and powerful and wonderful and every other adjective.
-my birthday was the most memorable day of my entire life. We were in Port Harcourt at the time, which if you don't know, is one of the most dangerous cities in Nigeria. after i turned 18 at midnight I got to call home for about 5 minutes and talk to danny. it made me so happy! we had about 5 different things planned for the day so i knew the day wouldn't be focused on me, which i was fine with. Our first activity was to meet with the organization MOSOP which stands for MOvement for the Survival of the Oguni People. On our way to the organization it was raining hard and the traffic was horrendous. getting anywhere in port harcourt takes at least an hour because of the poor conditions of the roads and lack of traffic signs and rules. the day took a hard turn when we were sitting in traffic with the water rolling down the windows and we look outside and see the saddest thing I have seen in all my life. There were about three kids standing on the center divide ranging from ages 3 to 7. one of the little boys, the youngest, only a toddler was naked with a picture of himself naked around his neck. the picture was there so that everyone could see his birth defect or illness which caused his stomach and body parts to be extrememly swollen. he stood next to our car and looked up with his crying eyes asking us for money. their mother was sitting down, dry, underneath an umbrella nearby. it just killed me to think of the life this boy has to live. i don't want to blame anyone- his mother, his country. i just want to think about the right of every human to life a decent life. i cannot pretend to understand their condition or rationalize anything in any way. all i know is that he did not have shelter and because of where he was born he does not have access to medical help. i wanted more than anything i have ever wanted in my life to pick him up and love him and care for him and take him home with me. i sat there, comfortable, dry in a nice van thinking about why i should get to live a happy, comfortable life while people here struggle everyday to survive. i have come to the conclusion that almost all of the issues in the country stem from the government. the government has plenty of money they just choose not to spend it on education, the cities and social services. After driving away and arriving at MOSOP we all found it hard to function. we sit down and we learn about what is happening in the Niger Delta with oil. A general overview that is not sufficient is that Shell Oil is exploiting the entire area. they do not pay the government or the people a fair amount for the oil they take and the environmental effects of what they are doing are disgusting and disturbing. i am about to be kicked off the computer so i will shortly summarize the rest of the day. i promise to write more later: we got to go to where the oil companies drill and see leaking pipelines that have caught on fire spewing volcanic amounts of pollution into the air every second. we saw families living less than 50 feet away from the fires. we went to a school and they surprised me with a birthday cake and celebration. i can't write more but it was definitely a day that brought me into adulthood.

i love everyone

visit and don't buy shell oil ever again!!!

1 comment:

poblana said...

I have been reading (and enjoying!) your posts, Annie. It sounds like you're having the experience of a lifetime! I look forward to hearing more... Take care of yourself. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! You have certainly grown up to be an amazing young woman! Love, Camba