Notes: National Geographic magazine by Lin Yi-Hsuan
現在，我暫住國合會志工的公寓裡，我有自己的房間，有熱水每天洗澡，有食物吃，還有很多時間能夠看書。我向國合會志工借來一些中文書，其中一本，曾翻拍成電影，並拿下奧斯卡最佳外語片，書名:Q & A。電影名字則是，貧民百萬富翁。
Notes: National Geographic magazine by Lin Yi-Hsuan
It’s been more than a week since I got back to the capital.
During this period of time I was waiting for the new home stay, applying for identification proves in Honduras, re-arranging my flights and most importantly, taking care of my skin disease.
The doctor told me that I shouldn’t go back to the organization, the fleas and skin disease I have at the moment were passed on to me while I was there, it was not just because of environmental issues but also because I had no antibodies, I got the disease through having physical contacts with the children. This week I must take pills everyday after dinner, apply ointments to my skin and go through a thorough sterilization twice, I’ll also need to disinfect all the personal clothing, bedding and so on with boiling hot water. I told the head office that I don’t want to go back to the capital or be transferred to a new place because I haven’t managed to finish my project in Copan, and to be fair it has only just started. If I decided to continue to stay here then when I complete my one-year voluntary programme next year I’ll have to go through the sterilization again and those germs and fleas that are currently living in my body might come back again, in other words, there is a possibility that my skin disease may relapse in the future.
At the moment I am temporarily living in the volunteers’ apartment that ICDF (International Cooperation and Development Fund) provide, I have my own room, hot water to shower everyday, food and lots of time to read. I borrowed some Chinese books from other volunteers, one of them had been made into a film and won the best foreign film at Oscar. The title of the book is Q & A, and the title of the film is Poor Millionaires.
The character in the novel lives in the biggest ghetto in Asia, living like an animal at the edge of law and society and past away like insects.
While reading this book, I was reminded vividly the memories of my time spent in Honduras. The main character in the book was abandoned by his mother, he lives in a Teenage Home shelter run by social services; every kid in the orphanage where I worked has a similar misfortune. The dirty and unhygienic environment and food at the Teenage Home is just like the orphanage where we have lots of flies flying around in the kitchen and dirty water that we use to prepare food. The novel mentioned stall vendors, cleaners, out of school children; I have been friends with people who are street artists selling things in the park, maids who live with their in-house masters, my neighbor at the organization and those homeless children wandering around streets whose arms I have written Chinese characters on. The Ghetto was built with aluminum walls, it is stinky and out of electricity and water, just like the last five months that I lived in Copan, I got used to having strange smells on me all the time, always woken up by fleas all over my body, and also out of electricity and water.
During the period of time I lived in Honduras, I had experienced the life of the rich, living in a luxurious cottage built with expensive materials, guarded by the police and cleaned by maids. I have my personal bathroom, stylistic decorations, high-end car made, garden, parties, designer clothes, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, foreign friends, wireless internet, souvenirs from other countries, deserts, pastries and silver plates and cutleries.
Yet I had also lived in a ghetto built with random iron sheets and concretes, nearby on the streets there were pigs, horses, chicken and ducks running around and flies everywhere. We used dirty water to clean our dishes and clothes, brush our teeth and clean our bodies. All the children were wearing torn and ripped clothes, full of snots and rheum on their faces and full of scratches and scars on their bodies. Eating food that has odd and sewer-like smells. A neighbor who has never had peanut butter, never seen a computer, didn’t know the existence of any other city other than the town he lived in asked me why I couldn’t just take a bus from Taiwan to come to Honduras. I had lived like a homeless without knowing where to go in the evenings and had to wander around alone in the streets and daydream in a park. Didn’t have water to have shower or brush my teeth, I can only change my clothes instead of having showers, I would rinse my mouth with the purchased water to substitute for tooth-brushing. Because there are no toilets that I can use I must make sure that I loiter around the restaurants in town at the right time to use free toilet, or order a coffee so then I can use the toilet. I also had so many diarrheas that my whole body was lack of any strength and energy while still having to play ball games with the kids, and end up falling asleep under the blinding sun.
Right now I am sitting in a private car owned by the manager of ICYE in Honduras. It is playing English songs in the car; I am all clean and fresh with my seat belt fastened and enjoying the air conditioning. Few minutes ago the manager drove through a couple of streets and ordered some set meals at a drive-through fast food franchise, we were discussing my following itinerary in Argentina. When the manager was waiting at the petrol station, I looked out of the window and saw vendors selling pirated DVDs, women pushing their stalls and selling food on the streets, children going in between all the passing cars. The moment the staff returned the credit card to the manager, he quickly signed and turned on the car again, we left all those people far behind us as if they were ordinary sceneries.
The country where I am now allows me to see truthfully the enormous gap between the rich and the poor. Before then I have no idea how unjust this world is. The inequality one experiences on the aspects of health, wealth and opportunities is so great that is terrifying, it caused a huge amount of people to live in despair. But because I am in Honduras, I am able to see that not only here but also in Central America, South America, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China), or elsewhere on the world map, not one country can get away from this destiny, the enormous gap.
There is a paragraph in the book which says:
“ They are people with no desires, because they are destined to always be satisfied in their lives even before they were borne.”
But does the life without desires really worth pursuing? Is the lack of desire really any better than the lack of wealth, the real poverty?