Hey everyone! It’s Naadiya. I am currently in Uganda, doing some HIV research in a rural fishing community. Being in Uganda has been extremely interesting, since it gives me the opportunity to reflect on things going on in the United States in a comparison to the situations I see in Uganda and the countries surrounding Uganda. Poverty in Uganda, and in most developing countries, is extremely severe, but I wouldn’t say it is worse than the United States. Why? Because the United States is a developed country, and has systems in place to help avoid hunger and poor education in communities. I think we often try to compare and downplay people’s struggles, by saying that other people have it worse, and though it might seem like one person’s situation is worse than another’s, devaluing the pain a person is experiencing, devalues the person as a whole.
I say all of this, because we are still fighting for improved sanitation at Tench Tilghman. There might be “bigger problems” going on in Baltimore, in the United States and in the World, but this problem still has value to us, because this problem has a cascading effect. The lack of trash cans, leads to increased pest in the area. The pest infect the school, causing the children to not eat their school food and drinks. The kids are hungry, so they don’t focus in school and can’t do well. The “small” problem of trash cans, then leads to a much larger problem. We want to make education better for children, but we must realize, the most minute causes that lead kids to educational failure. When you are remodeling a house, you first move out the furniture, then you tear down drywall, and then you take out mirrors, etc. You don’t just start ripping off the roof, while there is still furniture on the inside. We can’t remodel a system, that currently allows for the failure of children in poverty, by attacking it all at once.
A month ago, the students at Johns Hopkins had a demonstration to showcase the disparity in conditions between the University and the children’s lifestyle. These sorts of demonstrations will continue until actions are made by the University. We won’t stop our push for these improved conditions, because it is of extreme importance that these children realize that they are valued, and giving up on this problem for “bigger” problems, undermines their current situations.
I’ve spoken a lot about “Value” in this blog, because as a society, we often devalue people. We treat people in poverty, less like people and more like projects that we can work on for a certain amount of time and then throw aside. Charisma’s Crayons is aimed at showing children how valuable they are. I also talk about value this week, because in wake of the recent tragedy in Orlando, there have been many organizations that focus on the policies, and I am focused on the people. The people that lost their lives, were so valuable, to their family and friends, to the LGBTQ community, and to the Greater Orlando community. It is important that as our city recovers from this tragedy and grieves the loss of so many precious people, we remember the importance of valuing each other, because in the end love conquers all. #LoveIsLoveIsLove
P.S. I Value You