Living with the Poor

After the first meeting, I was required to live with one of workers’ families. I was too shocked to respond. In my mind, I had thought we would stay at the hotel near these families after visiting. First of all, for international participants, we had traveled from other countries and arrived at the night before visiting. We were all tired, we really need better rest to be refreshed for the new day. Second, I could not bear to live in these poor, dirty and smelly conditions. I was willing to visit them and listen to their story, but that did not mean that I had to live with them. I felt sad and helpless.

But my leader told me that I had no other options. I had to obey. One of member of the team kindly reassured me that the woman who would lead me to her family, was very kind, just like my mom, and that just as she would treat me as her daughter, I should love her as my mom. When I was about leave, he looked in my eyes and said, “ Good luck,Cici”. At that moment, I felt that I was a lamb being led to the place for sacrifice. (Tears were in my heart.)

The woman’s home was right beside the place where we held the meeting. When I entered the broken door, I saw a small lane leading into the room on the first floor. Beside the lane, there was a place for washing dishes, and a
place for cooking, and next to the cooking place there was a toilet (bath room). I entered the main room on the first floor. It seemed smelly and dirty, and full of messy stuff for living: clothes, a small TV, and a broken chair….. I looked for a bed, but did not see any in this room. The woman asked me to sit down on the sofa, which was a long bench made of plastic with a big hole in the middle. .After I sat, her son told me that I would be sleeping on this sofa. Again, I was shocked. But I adjusted my thinking immediately, I should learn how to live with them, to experience what they are experiencing. Then, I sat down, and listen to her family’s story. The woman has 6 children, 3 daughters and 3 sons.

The oldest daughter was 34 years old; the youngest son was 10 years old. Her second daughter also has two girls, and teaches at the Mobile lternative School, which is run by Union of Worker Community to provide better care and education for worker’s children. The third daughter is studying at a technical high school, majoring in cooking. The oldest son is a leadman working in a factory, and has two children. The second son is studying at the secondary school, and the youngest is studying in grade 5 at primary school. Even though they are poor, they were willing to share with me what they have.

I was impressed with how the children welcomed me, and loved me especially the youngest boy. He is 10 years old, and very talented at singing. Because he and his mom slept on the floor next to my sleeping “sofa”, we were able to become closer by playing, singing and chatting together. I believe he has the talent to become a great musician, and I feel saddened that he will not have a chance to get a good musical education. I will not ever forget how he cried and hugged me tightly as I was leaving that day.