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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wear their shoes

 Today when I was in the squatter camp of Freedom Park I was speaking with a caregiver who counsels and cares for AIDS patients.  She is 48 years old, she walks probably 5-8 miles each day on her rounds to see her patients in 90-100 degree temperatures.  

She receives approximately $200 per month for her work.  Of that, about $75 per month goes to pay for funeral insurance to cover the cost of funerals for her immediate family.  (Imagine having so many family members dying that almost half of your salary goes to pay for the funerals.)

She cares for her own children and her grandchildren.   Her sister passed away last year so she also cares for her nieces and nephews.

She was telling me how she struggles because she has problems, her children have problems, and when she counsels her patients she takes on their problems.

After we met with an AIDS patient today who is struggling to survive, while at the same time struggling to raise two unruly teenage children, she told me, (in broken English) "Yesterday I was talking to this woman about all of her problems, and today I am wearing her shoes.  Her problems are mine."

I couldn't help but contrast this woman's troubles with the indifference that you commonly find in America (myself included.)  How often can we say that we "wear our neighbors shoes"?


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