Monday, November 30, 2009
That's Dooty Baby
We did our second big trash cleanup in town on Saturday. It was pretty awesome really. It got off to a rocky start, and looked like the 10 of us might be cleaning up trash on our own. By like 9am we were sitting in the shade in the center of town plotting our excuses to ditch out. I've gotten pretty extreme double takes before, but the 10 of us sitting in the shade of the clock tower at the town center in matching t-shirts got something on a different level entirely. I think the rough equivalent at home would be if you saw a fleet of porpoises in matching funny hats juggling flaming chainsaws in Times Square. It might attract a little crowd.
At the 11th hour, my bulletproof excuse proved unnecessary, Brad called with good news. He was at CRO- Child Restoration Outreach, the organization for streetkids. He says he wrangled some manpower, so we should head over there. Manpower wasn't quite the right term I guess, probably kidpower would have been better. I walked into the compound and was instantly swarmed by zillions of kids. Within fifteen whirlwind minutes I had a sweet CRO tshirt on my back, some latex gloves on my fingers, and some tasty gruel in my stomach ("If you love us you'll taste it"). An hour later the Islamic University Students Union showed up with wheel barrows. Away we went.
The trash pick up was cool I guess, as much as I hate picking up after myself, much less others. Cruising the streets in a huge pack, well, picking up trash was pretty fun. There was something kind of satisfying about getting homeless kids that live on the streets to take ownership and help us clean up those very streets. On the other hand, it's hard to love a society in which children and foreigners come in to pick up the piles and piles of garbage on the streets while grown men sit on the stoops to watch and laugh. Frustration is spending hours cleaning up other people's candy wrappers then turning around to survey the 6 square foot stretch of sidewalk you just finished cleaning, only to see someone dropping a wrapper on it. That would have been bad enough, but he also felt the need to point to it and tell me to pick it up in case I hadn't seen it. Thanks dude, maybe if you understood the concept of sanitation you wouldn't need to worry about cholera in your food.
Everything was moving along nicely, I was on enormous bag number two and had a fleet of kids swarming around doing my bidding. Everything was going well, so I let my mind slip and started to switch to autopilot a little bit. Big mistake.
Bam! Human feces! I don't know how I knew it, but it was just kind of one of those snap to reality instantaneous things. Uh oh, I have anonymous doodiebutter on my hand, that's bad. Hopefully the study I just saw on the news about a 100% failure rate for latex condoms in Kenya doesn't extend to latex gloves in Uganda. Peace out trash cleanup, I got a hot date with some Clorox.
So all in all it was a pretty solid microcosm for my entire life here:
1. We almost failed from the get-go despite good planning, but then everything fell into place at the last second and went great.
2. It was energizing and rewarding to help the community, but 75% of the people we were trying to help didn't actually care.
3. Fine as a whole, but the shitty parts really suck.