Saturday, September 02, 2006
Country side tour
We left at 9:30 this morning for a tour of the country. We really had no idea what to expect. When we got on the bus our tour guide began to tell us that they were taking us to a small village in the country so that we could see something similar to where all our babies are born/found. Most of the babies that are abandoned come from the country. Women often take a bus somewhere to abandon them. The people that live in the country are obviously farmers. Our guide told us that there are 1.3 Billion people in China and .8 Billion are farmers. So what we were going to see today was what most of China is like. After a few minutes on the highway we were able to see mountains and the scenery began to look a lot like North Carolina except with taller buildings and more people... I was thinking how even though these people live in "the country" they still live on top of one another. We exited the highway and entered the town that the village was in. It appeared extremely run-down. I couldn't tell if businesses were open or if they were abandoned buildings. There were very few cars, many bikes, and tons of mopeds and motorcycles. As you can see from the pictures Moms are toting their children around on mopeds with out helmets, even on the highway! We turned out of town and went down a long country road. There were many farms. Mostly bananas, fruit, squash, beans, etc. Everything looked dirty and it was hard to believe that people were actually living around there. You can see in the photos all of the garbage on the side of the roads. I couldn't believe it. There were people rummaging through it. We even take for granted the way in which we dispose of our waste. The bus stopped at a place I wouldn't have expected. A small "village" with dilapidated buildings. At first glance I was not able to tell that there was a farm behind the village. We got off the bus, our whole family, and about 15 other people all carrying cameras/video cameras and Chinese babies. We were quite the scene. I was not prepared for what I was about to see.
There were children running everywhere and they immediately swarmed around the first people off the bus. People from our group gave them bags of candy. We walked down a very narrow street. We could see inside the homes of these people. It was filthy. Obviously no AC, broken windows, no doors. The worst poverty I have ever seen. I began to feel so many different emotions that I am not sure I can even express them. I immediately felt guilt and embarrassment as we were filming and snapping photos of these people. I felt so intrusive, like I was making a spectacle out of their unfortunate existence. I made a comment to one of the other men in the group, hoping for confirmation that he too was as uncomfortable as I. He just said to me , why not , they stare at us... I would have liked to have taken more photos but I tried to be as discreet as possible, which was difficult since I was walking through this small village with several obnoxious, typical, McDonald's eating , overweight, ungrateful, Americans. Although the people that lived there were friendly and didn't seem to mind our gawking, I still felt so uncomfortable. I asked the guide if they had even seen a tour bus of Americans before and she said only twice. We walked a bit further up the road and I began to notice the women that lived there and tried to imagine what it was like for Bliss' birthmother. I imagined giving birth in a place like that and trying to raise children. The apartments were hovels. I again became filled with guilt and I think, shame. I couldn't hold back tears anymore and had to walk away from the group. There was a women sitting off to the side with her small baby. He was sitting in the dirt and was filthy. At that moment, it became very clear to me why women in this country have to abandon babies. There are just no options and no hope for them. My thought was, even the dirtiest orphanage is better than this. It is sad to see first-hand human suffering but so important for Bliss that I did. I can now help her to better understand the problems in her birth country and realize her mother's choice was so completely our of her control. It was the utmost act of love, sacrifice, and suffering. No humans naturally want to abandon their child. This will be such a hard subject for her to grasp as she begins to question where she was left and why. At least I have better answers to why. What we saw today was moving and what I referred to as human suffering seems that way to me, but what was amazing is that there were still children playing and laughing, and running. There were still people working and smiling. There were still people relaxing in their homes and on their front "porch". All was fine in their world. It's all a matter of perception. I am feeling very blessed. Take a moment to be thankful.
Oh, and sorry for the poor quality of photographs coming from the "photographer". I was taking most of them out of a moving bus with a baby on my lap.