Saturday, September 03, 2005

Fostering Hope

Sometimes there are problems so wide and deep that we never think we will come to the end of them. It's the end of the weekend and it's been emotionally draining. New stories emerge from the aftermath of the hurricane. You know what I didn't know? The size of the relief area is estimated to be around 90,000 square miles, roughly the size of Great Britain? Like many people, I've been shaking my head wondering, "Why did help take so long?" We want things to be in a 90-minute movie where the bad guys are stopped, the good guys triumph, and the "extra" who dies didn't really die because he was only acting. Somehow battalions of aid works and tons of supplies just "appear" on the scene. The waves of water are only computer-generated, the wreckage only props. Not so. Real life moves more slowly and makes us pay dearly.

Frustration can give way to rage that seeks to pin blame on anything and anyone that makes a convenient target. The he-said, she-said, they-did, they-didn't can go on and on forever. Those of us who aren't in the know except by what the media feeds us can't go on rumors and excerpts from broadcasts "someone saw." We let our experience and beliefs color our opinions of what we see.

For example, I know someone who doesn't understand why "all those people" didn't just leave New Orleans. He thinks, "they stayed so they could loot."

I told him (after I resisted the urge to share a piece of my mind with him not so subtly), "Not everyone has a reliable vehicle they can just fill up with gas and drive. Some people--the poor, the elderly, the handicapped--they have no one to help them. They had no way out." So of course they didn't leave. Where? How? Poverty has shown how it limits people. I relate to Paul's words: "I've had little. I've had a lot. I've learned to be content." And I've never forgotten the days when I didn't have a steady reliable paycheck. During times like that, I did what I could. So did they.

So now, waves of evacuees have reached my area. We're going to help out however we can. Please, again, help in your local area. One person can't do everything, but we can all do something.

I e-mailed some fellow authors for help when I had a brainstorm. I thought of a way to find hope and comfort in a tangible way for some refugees, especially the ones in the mass shelters around Texas. Hair care. No matter what her race, a woman likes to do her hair. Girls like to play "hair do." I asked what kind of styling products African-American women would need and appreciate. (It's been a long time since Sheila Lee was my roommate in college back in '86.) Here is what author Mary Griffith shared with me:

"Large tooth combs, rubber bands (Wal mart hare care .99 for about 500) or hair elastics (Goody or other), barrettes for the little girls, hair grease (coconut grease is about 2.00 for a big jar, there are smaller jars for about .96), shampoo (Motions, Cream of Nature or other AA line, again on Wal Mart black hair care aisle), conditioner (anything cholesterol from Queen Helene, Motions or other, again Wal Mart), Magic Shave for the men's razor bumps, relaxer kits (precise, soft and beautiful, African pride are all 5.00 and under at wal mart), lotion for skin (.99 Jergens is fine), afro picks, headscarves (in black hair section of walmart for 2.00)

Any of the above would be greatly appreciated. People will definitely want to do their little girl's hair which can be done with grease, rubber bands or hair elastics, barrettes and possible "knockers", those big balls on elastic bands that you twine around ponytails. You can find these things reasonably at Wal Mart, but if there is an Oriental beauty supply in your area, you may want to compare there as the barrettes and knockers may be cheaper there, but Wal Mart is very comparable."

So besides diapers and lotion and stuffed animals, I'm going to get a bunch of products so some of the ladies can feel a little bit "done" again. They may not have a permanent home, but they'll have a little dignity. And maybe that will foster a little hope. I pray so. We need hope for the long road ahead.

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations,
knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God
has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

1 comment:

Christine Lynxwiler said...

Lynette, your post brought tears to my eyes. How like you to think of something so simple, yet so profound as helping them to feel good about themselves. I'm proud to be your friend. :) Can't wait to see you soon!!