This morning, I woke up at home – not Haiti – and the differences are dramatic:
I wasn’t awakened by a rooster and the sound of a broom already energetic in the leaves outside my window. My alarm waits until I’m ready.
I didn’t wake up on the floor this morning. My mattresses atop my 4-poster mahogany bed are covered with another feather pillowtop mattress.
My pillow wasn’t an airport neck beanie sack. I have four feather pillows.
I wasn’t covered with a Shamwow towel as a blanket. I have a king-sized, uber-soft blanket that covers my bed.
There was no need for a battery-operated fan. Now I have A/C.
I wasn’t wearing my sports bra, necessary when surrounded by 10 other people. I can close the door of my own room for privacy.
I didn’t have to fumble for my flashlight. When I flick a switch now, light appears.
I didn’t have to don my flip flops before walking on floors that might have untold bacteria. I’m barefoot until I walk out the door – and sometimes carry my shoes to the car. My car. My own car.
I didn’t need to check the toilet lid for splatters in the darkness or wonder whether the flush pump is working. I’ve trained my husband and son – and we have light & reliable plumbing.
I didn’t have to take a cold shower or keep the water from entering my mouth. I have hot water, serious water pressure and water I can trust.
I didn’t have to brush my teeth in a cup of purified water from a large jug. Sometimes I let the water in the sink run way too long.
I didn’t have to perch outside with a mirror to have enough light to see my reflection. I have a bank of mirrors – and a lighted makeup mirror.
I didn’t have to slather DEET onto my arms and legs before beginning the day outdoors at an orphanage. If a mosquito bites me here, it’s unlikely I’ll get malaria. And, if I did, medical treatment is easily accessible.
I didn’t have to eat a protein bar so I wouldn’t throw up while taking my malaria-prevention pill. I have 10 days left of my meds – and can eat a full breakfast to keep it down.
I didn’t have to fill my canteen with purified water before leaving for the day. There is safe water everywhere I go.
I didn’t have to pack enough protein bars for me, my translator and a Haitian child for the day. Food is everywhere. And my conversations are in my native language.
I didn’t have to put on clothes that have been worn several times without cleaning. I have a washing machine with plenty of water, electricity and detergent.
I didn’t have to leave my hair a mess. Now I have a hair dryer and electric straightener.
I didn’t have to step over 10 other people in a three-room house. I’m home alone this week – in my 10-room house. With my dog. Who lives indoors. And is fed better than many children and adults in Haiti.
I didn’t have to wait until evening to type this – IF the electricity came on for three hours that night. All I have to do is flop down on my leather sofa and begin to type on one of my computers – at any time of the day or night.
I didn’t need a driver (likely armed) to get where I’m going. I have my own car and fuel and merely need to be cautious about my safety.
There was no need for clearance to enter the grocery store parking lot and there was no armed guard at the entry and no sentries posted on every aisle. I shop freely and without concern for personal protection or theft.
I don’t pass throngs of hungry men, women and children when I drive down the road. While they certainly exist in some quarters, they are rarely visible en masse.
I didn’t drive two hours to go 30 miles. Our highway system is efficient, cars are roadworthy and streets are in great shape.
I didn’t drive on any side of the road necessary to navigate the seething, creeping, honking traffic. Travel is orderly here.
I didn’t worry about the day’s blazing heat forecast. I’ll be inside and be so chilly from air conditioning that I’ll need a sweater.
I didn’t have to slip through the gravel and dust down the side of a hill to reach a dilapidated tent that contains 8 people or drip inside it with sweat from the heat, just to visit my friends and family. Just about everyone I know has a house with a groomed yard and air conditioning.
I didn’t have to go without. I have a job and money in my pocket to spend on more than survival. Whenever I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m thirsty, I drink. When I’m bored, I forget that is a luxury we cannot afford.
I didn’t wake up to the smiling face of a young boy whose eyes are bright with the new knowledge that someone cares.
I didn’t wake up where I want to be.
I want to go back.
If you have to ask, you’ve never been where you’re needed most. I challenge you to try it – just once.
Double dog dare ya.