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  • I have never felt as embarrassed and ashamed to be a "rich American" as I did on the day our mission group walked down to the "dock" in Haiti. I say "dock" euphemistically, because there was no dock; just old, dilapidated wooden boats in the water, and a mob of Haitian men standing at the edge of the shore, calling out for work.

    "Two dollars! I'll carry you. Two dollars!"

    They crowded around us, hurriedly collecting around the slimmer teenagers who didn't weigh as much, but quickly moving on to the larger middle-aged women and men who also had to be carried. A few dared to raise their price to $3.00, but were underbid by their hungry competition.

    And they were hungry. That was the saddest part. Most of the Haitian people I met were too proud to beg for money. Instead, they offered to work for a pittance. But every now and then, one of them would simply, quietly state, "I am hungry." I wished I had a dollar for every person I met, and silently berated myself for not bringing every dollar I had to this impoverished nation. Next time, I vowed.

    For now, we stood mobbed on the bank as Haitian men began scooping the Americans up onto their shoulders and carrying them out to the weathered boats where we would sail 13 miles to Tortuga Island, bringing toys, clothes and food to the children there. We couldn't walk to the boats ourselves; the water went up to the shoulders and sometimes over the heads of the men, and the rocky ocean floor would cut up our feet. It was not lost on me that our feet were deemed too delicate while theirs were not, despite the fact that we wore shoes and they didn't.

    They carried us on their shoulders as water sloshed against their chests and faces. When we reached the boat, they heaved us up higher on their shoulders, muscles straining as Haitian men on board grabbed our arms and pulled us up onto the boats. It was clumsy; we were heavy. But not nearly as heavy as my heart as I realized the disparity in our lives and how unfair it all was.
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