Panama 2018 Day 8: The Richness of Poor Countries

Many of us who’ve had significant experiences in developing countries cringed at Trump’s characterization of “shithole” nations whose black and brown people he considers undesirable and unworthy.

My dear friend Louise’s daughter Amy served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger from 1991 to 1993. With Amy’s permission, I post her reflections on the time there. My experience in Panama was certainly similar. These countries are poor and some are war torn, but they are not shitholes. They are filled with kind, gracious people trying to live their lives under the most difficult conditions. In that, they exhibit a generosity of spirit that Trump’s brittle ego and narcissism will never allow him to know.

my family in Niger. Malam Mohamed(in the back), Elgabid,me(obvious), Hadizatou, Aulik, Alix Fedoruk, Hamada and Mohammadou Mamouda Mouhamed (with his gorgeous smile) in the front. These people gave me everything. When I was lonely the invited me in, when I was hungry they prepared me food and included me in family meals. When I was sad or discouraged they engaged with me and listened to my stories (with broken Hausa) and cheered me up with their humor and affection. Hadizatou was the hardest working “one woman work horse” I ever met. She was actually deaf and it never seemed to limit her communication—with antics and theatrics abound she was always able to convey a message. I was still young learning about life and they walked me through it all. My life with this family continues to contribute to who I am in the world today. They had nothing yet they gave me everything— the clothes off their back, the food that was scarce- they loved me for who I was. I can’t say enough, it truly was a gift to be a part of their family for the 2 years that I lived in Niger. Love one another, open your eyes, defy the idiot in the White House, fight for open borders and immigration rights. We all need one another, clearly we are stronger together- always!

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