We got out of our car since the dirt/mud road was cut off by a large ditch. Our host said that we will need to walk the rest of the way. Looking up and down the ditch we found a “bridge” to cross and we carefully walked to the other side. The trash was overwhelming, it was everywhere we looked. But that was mild compared to the stench. I have been around open sewers and I have cleaned out spoiled food from houses and shoveled garbage in tenement housing. Nothing prepared me for the sights, smells and sounds of this slum.
Crowds of midnight black adults and children stood and watched our group of white people. The children ran to us mobbing us; singing a phrase over and over and over again, “How are you? How are you? How are you?” They followed us the entire way to our destination. No parental supervision. No shoes. Just excitement.
We walked the dirt/mud path between corrugated tin shacks. Some had doors. Some had openings. None had running water or sewer. I doubt that many had electric. Most were one room shanty shacks that gave some shelter to a family living on what we spend on coffee. Since there are no sewers, the sewage runs down trenches in front of the shacks. Sewage, trash, bones, stench, running along the road right in front of the houses. Children walking through the trenches with no shoes, chanting “how are you?” Skin and bone mangy dogs were everywhere searching for scraps of food.
Women sat in front of their shacks burning wood to make charcoal. This fragrance burned into our noses along with the other smells. Some cooked food over their charcoal right next to the sewer trench with filthy children playing close by.
How can this be? How can this happen? It shut me down. I have been in awful places but this put me on overload. I wanted to run out. I couldn’t take it. It was overload because not only was it horrible but I could see no end to it or solution to it. Is there a solution?