Friday, May 19, 2006

Looking in the horses what?!

A few days ago we stopped brick-laying and ventured for the first time into one of the completed houses to smash out the existing floors and lay in some new ones.

So today we had a visitor on site. He introduced himself and told Kyle that he was getting the house we had been working on. They stood chatting for a while as I excused myself since Pecs'O'Steel (I still can't say his name) wanted some help with OleBlueEyes (he has told me his name and I can't say it properly either).

Passing them on the stairs of the house I hear snippets. Tsunami first wave I saw... My house gone...My Wife and daughter okay...this house mine.. and so on. So during the tea break Kyle tells me about the visitor and the stories he was telling Kyle. My heart bled and I felt suddenly for the first time since being here that perhaps we could make some smudge of a difference to this mans life.

Such feelings were quickly dispelled as Kyle then told me how the man started complaining to him. The man told him that he felt that the interior finishes of the house were inadequate and not to his liking. So this is the reason why we have stopped putting up walls for the unfinished houses at the other end of site. Because this guy thought that his floors weren't level enough?

Then it was pointed out by someone else to Kyle, then myself, that this man used to live on this land, in a shack he had made, illegaly. The land that was acquired by the charity, so that the village that once stood there in its rag and bones could be rebuilt properly.

Now at this point I thought it unfair. How dare he criticise the free home in which he could hold a proper roof over his wife and daughters heads? How dare he stop these men from working on someone else's bare kitchen walls so that he might roll a ping pong ball across his floor and have it rest neatly? At home we were always told to never inspect a gift as it was being given to you - as is the practice here. He is asking Pecs'O'Steel over there to smash out the window that isn't finished well enough, as though he is 'entitled' to this house and it is rightfully his!

I was taken aback by my own judgmental attitude to the guy and rethought his point of view. After all, who was I to judge? I was just some kid who had stumbled into the place anyway.

Its difficult to say whether this man had any right to be inspecting the house and inspecting the work that the lads were doing. Because on one hand, it isn't really a gift. Because he would have built his own house where it once stood anyway. Land legally his or otherwise. By building these houses here-they are affectively in the way of what is morally his. Or is it? On the other hand, he was getting the deeds to a nicely built house, running water (a luxury in the area-I'm told), finishes and all - for free!

Its hard to say whether the site managers should tell him to bugger off and get what he is given. Because, although, he has no legal (a theme which I hope is short lived in this blog-but we'll see eh?) rights, what are his moral rights to the land where he once lived?

Because, although the people who are going to move in are getting to live in nice houses now, they still will be poor. Maybe they can't afford the running water? I don't have the answers. And I doubt I ever will. Maybe he would have been happier had the organisation built him a fishing boat? I don't know...

Maybe its the muggy weather on at the minute but the whole idea has made me quite sad that there is a chance that the efforts of the organisation aren't wanted/appreciated. Another similar incident and a conversation over dinner the other night about whether or not we are in fact doing what we had come out here to do has me wondering whether something may be intrinsically wrong with the system? Perhaps the man was simply frustrated that no one has come to help him and that the one thing that he is given is faulty. Even if deemed so himself. Maybe it turns out that we aren't really doing any good anyway, and that the work done was purely selfish in that it was self-rewardingly driven (and yes, the on-site experience does count towards my never-ending degree)? Had efforts been more fruitful elsewhere?

So instead of buying an overpriced bunch of bananas, we buy/make water tanks or boats-how come then, when the boats, that work perfectly well, get returned for another colour? (give it a rest eh, this isn't a dig galleblogger-just trying to take in your advice)

In a place where I have never seen so many determined people try and make a difference to someone else's life (yes, I've been talking to Jo again- that woman is an inspiration) I never imagined there to be not quite enough done.xxw


Post a Comment

<< Home