Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fight for all the right reasons

This is Jocelyn. She’s four years old. Doesn’t walk. Sit up. Talk. Stand. She nearly died from starvation, but the nutrition center sent her immediately to the hospital when she arrived there, after Jocelyn’s grandmother brought her to the center.
She has an excellent chance of not only surviving, but walking, talking and almost being normal, but for the brain damage suffered from her poor little body lacking nutrition in her formative years. The kids always get to me the most.

We were in Matagalpa today, northern Nicaragua. Very productive day. Odd, how it started out. The hotel we stayed at lacked a/c current and I don’t have a converter. So at 6:15 a.m. I was sitting in the little living area by the kitchen, which is open to all guests and the family who owns the hotel, editing one book and listening to Nickelback’s Fight for all the wrong reasons. Good song to write by, and it made me wonder.

I hope I'm fighting for all the right reasons. Isn’t raising money to buy kids food and medicine to keep them alive a right reason? I sure hope so.

Anyway, I go from editing a scene just after the hero/heroine make love, to the nutrition center and seeing little Jocelyn. I didn’t get emotional, I guess I’ve seen too many cases like this. It doesn’t mean I’m indifferent or cruel, just practical. She isn’t the worst case, by far. And fact is, the people at the center are very dedicated and will do all they can to restore Jocelyn to health, both physically and mentally. Kids get very depressed when they go through a crisis like this.

We visited lots of families today, families living in adobe huts where scorpions, spiders and even coral snakes slither through the cracks in the mud. One woman had a scorpion fall on her face as she slept and it stung her in the forehead. She couldn’t talk; her tongue was too swollen. I kept shuddering as I took notes. There’s a very vivid scene in my May historical, The Scorpion and the Seducer, featuring lots of nasty scorpions. It’s fiction and these people live with the real thing. We’re doing a project to build them new homes with concrete walls. No more creepy crawlies.

I also met a woman with an extremely sad story. Her 16-year-old son died in the civil war years ago. He was "recruited" to fight for the Sandinistas. He was sitting on a park bench when a truck filled with Sandinistas came by and forced him in, to fight for their side. It was very common in Nicaragua’s civil war; taking children to fight against their will. The horrid reality of the child soldiers continues today in African countries besieged by civil war. This woman’s son was killed in action, a war he didn’t want to fight in, a war he was forced to participate in. She doesn’t even have a photo of him, and got very emotional talking about him.

I asked her, "Is the war over yet for you?" She said no. She misses her son dreadfully.

Anyway, I have a limited internet connection and have to sign off. I did figure I have two days to do the page proofs for The Scorpion and the Seducer when I get back home, so it’s back to the romance writing job after I leave Nicaragua. Some days I feel like a pancake being flipped back and forth from the sad reality of poverty with the gentle people I meet living in crude mud huts with no food and little hope, to the fantasy romance of fiction with its tight deadlines. Life is very strange.

1 comment:

Gillian Layne said...

Bless her heart, and bless you for the work you do.