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Do You Give a Damn?

Have you ever felt moved or compelled to change the environment you’re in? Did that ever escalate to wanting to change the world? Well for me, it happened.

Last Thursday, I went to lecture called “Give A Damn” at the Janet M. Daley Library Lecture Hall. The peculiar name had me sitting for three hours and feeling moved to change the world we are all living in. The questions they gave us were these two: What breaks your heart and what makes you come alive?

The lecture was a documentary film created by three guys, Dan Parris, David Peterka, and Rob Lehr. The documentary focused on extreme poverty in the United States, Europe, and Africa and was an experiment to see how they would live off of a $ 1.25 a day for food and transportation.

Excluding the items they already had such as cellphones, equipment, and airfare to Europe and Africa, the three guys took it to the streets. It took them eight days to get to London and about two and a half weeks to travel through Europe. From there they were off to Africa.

The reactions they received during their journey gave me a better understanding as to how people shut those out those not living up to materialistic standards in a consumer heavy society. The poor in this country as well as in Europe and Africa are misunderstood and are casted off as being bad people, are filthy and to not be trusted. This film, however, showed all of us that, that is not the case.

As Dan, David, and Rob journeyed they showed us some of the most amazing people and how hard it is to actually live in dire straits.

Beginning in St. Louis, Missouri, they hitchhiked their way through the U.S. living off of nothing but what they carried and were only allowed to receive one meal and transportation from those that were kind enough to stop and help. By the seventh day, they made it to Washington D.C. where they met the Former Director of Operations, Reagan Demas. Here they spoke with him on the journey they were taking and to get more clarification on the difference between extreme poverty versus American poverty.

What really resonated with me as they spoke with him was he said, “You’re so blessed you can’t even recreate this situation.” Hearing that it made me look deeper at the problem; maybe they couldn’t recreate extreme poverty but they could show us what it is really about.

As they journeyed they made it to Canterbury, England and spoke with a professor on the situation as well. By day thirteen, they arrived in Geneva where David begged outside of the U.S. Embassy. Little did he realize that it was illegal to do that.

After leaving they continued their journey to show us how they ate out of a garbage dump and slept in homeless shelters. When they arrived in Venice they slept in a park and when they got to Belgrade, they met with a woman who took them to see a gypsy camp in Serbia.

While there, they met some people to talk about what it was like living in poverty. The president they spoke with discussed how he wanted young people to see what was going on and so they could persuade older people to help. As I kept watching the film I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. So many people don’t realize how hard it is to make a living in poverty. I, myself have not lived in poverty but as I kept watching it hurt to see them go through this.

When they arrived in Africa, the boys traveled to Kibera, Nairobi, and Kakamega in Kenya; Kampala and Jinga in Uganda; Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and Butembo, Congo. There, they showed us how the people in these cities lived in houses made of mud, had no indoor plumbing and ate mud sticks called Pemba. What was worse was that the kids like eating it and pregnant women ate it to get the minerals they needed. There are overwhelming cases of HIV and malaria amongst the most people there and take so many lives, yet the people remained strong.

I didn’t realize how naïve our country is in comparison and as for myself I felt I needed the lesson. In my mind, my week was was crappy and I couldn’t help but feel stressed. However when I watched the film, my mind needed the kick.

It isn’t about me; it’s about everyone in this world. When each and every one of us takes part in helping the world we can then stop the naiveté. Our world needs us and we need to help those who have nothing. We can’t just brush them aside because they look happy in the midst of poverty. We need to gather our courage to go and help and not sit and wait for the answer.

So in answer to their questions, what breaks my heart is to see hurt, sick and depraved people especially when they cannot get the help they need. As for what moves me, it is to see people like Dan, David, and Rob who go out and help others. It makes me want to take more action and give the people what they need like food, medical care, education, clothes, and above all love and compassion.

For more information in regards to their organization and other projects please visit their website and David Peterka’s website for his organization, When the Saints.

Posted by on March 8, 2013. Filed under Around Campus,Events. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.