One of the biggest benefits of my recovery walk is to travel and explore the world, and share my hope with the people of it….
“Why don’t you do things locally?”, “Why are you worried about people in other countries when there’s so many people here that need help?” are questions that I often receive that make me wince inside.
This question usually comes from people that are unaware of the work that myself and Agape Projects do locally in Baltimore and throughout the United States, however after pointing that out I feel like I must expound more.
As of the writing of this article I have been on 13 relief trips to 7 different third world countries, and personally led 8 of them. I have also lived homeless in the streets of Baltimore as well as served the homeless, addicted and mentally ill in Baltimore and the surrounding areas.
Baltimore much like the rest of the United States has a large population of homeless individuals with the mass majority (statistics reach as high as %80) being addicts and/or alcoholics. The other majority are suffering from mental disorders or are dually diagnosed. There are tons of resources available for addicts and mentally ill, as well as healthcare for the homeless, shelters, transitional houses, etc as long as the person is willing to abide by the rules and stay clean. I’m by all means not judging or putting down the homeless population because I identify and empathize with them.
The poorest person in the city of Baltimore has access to hundreds more resources than the richest in Haiti. My main area of focus in recent years has been Haiti. Haiti is the poorest community in the Western Hemisphere. The majority of the residents do not have sanitation, electric or even access to drinkable water. In the neighborhoods that we serve they have none of the above, not even a bathroom. Children can be seen eating dirt to stay full, drinking from mud puddles, and going to the bathroom publicly on heaping mountains of trash where bodies decay beneath.
In the United States the poor are given free smart phones, low income areas are given free WiFi, they are given food and cash assistance as well as all the basic human rights for survival that those Haitians live without. I went to a health expo in downtown Baltimore last year and was amazed at the resources available to inner city children and adults. Free groceries, free electric, free cooking classes, dance classes, sports, archery, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, fishing, gardening, etc. There are opportunities, but people must be proactive to take them, people must want to improve their situations. In the United States victimhood has become a comfortable way of life which is either a common product of addiction or a catalyst for it.
The people born into true victimhood, who weren’t given a chance are those Haitians that I speak of, and yet they don’t display any notion of victimhood. They push against their struggle and stand tall, remain humble and grateful and embrace the hand that they were dealt. Those are all the same traits that us recovering addicts must embrace in order to live and stay clean, which is the very reason that I find it such an honor to serve them.