Some of you have wondered why I don’t talk about the poverty here. That’s because it’s fucking painful.
There’s no way to describe what it’s like to come over here as a white American, full of dreams and hopes of encouraging development for those less fortunate than myself, then to realize that I just feel like an asshole because I go out and spend money on beer in the evenings, instead of giving it to beggars who hassle me in the street.
There’s no way to describe what it feels like to sit in the Peace Corps SUVs as we drive through the streets of the capital for a tour, gawking, pointing, and staring at the natives from air conditioned comfort.
There’s no way to describe what it’s like to be embarrassed while unpacking, because I have so much, then to be further embarrassed to think that I considered it a hardship to leave so much behind.
There’s no way to describe the immense frustration that I feel about business development in Benin, because I simply can’t wrap my mind around the fact that over 50% of the country is illiterate. The SED trainees learn how to teach accounting to illiterates. As an ICT volunteer, especially where I’m going to be posted, in Cotonou, I won’t even be working with the poorest of poor, or even the poor at all.
Am I glad to be here? Absolutely. Am I going to do good? I sure hope so. But please don’t ask me to talk about the poverty here. It hurts. If I ease the pain by ignoring it, the callousness I develop hurts even more. When I write here, it’s about the things I want to share. It’s the funny stories, and it’s the third goal. It’s not the things that are gonna rip me apart during the next 25 months.