Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Where is "Safe?"

My two year old?  Wakes up to cereal and Barney, and a hula skirt where she dances to Lilo and Stitch on a portable DVD Player.   She has fed the seals at Sea World, and the closest she gets to being near a goat is at the petting zoo.  I am afraid of tetanus, e-coli, stress about 5-point harnesses on car seats, make sure there are plastic covers on all electrical outlets in our house, worry about her banging her head on something sharp, not getting enough nap time, getting to bed on time and stress about brushing her teeth twice a day.  

A few months ago I was talking to a travel client about her daughter.  Her daughter is about 5 months older than Myla, and so we instantly had a connection.  She was inquiring if it was possible to send her daughter to the Philippines with her mother so she could live there temporarily.  I started my usual textbook answer of how I couldn't give any kind of immigration advice and started to name a few people I thought who could help her.  Truth, is, I wasn't really listening to this woman, even though we had a common interest and bond.  It's just a handy trick of the trade when you talk to as many people as I have.  My mind instantly goes blank, and I think of other things while I look her straight in the eye and she really, truly, believes I am listening.  We are both mothers to two year old girls, and in our early 30's.  She went on to volunteer more information as to why she wanted to send her two year old daughter to the Philippines to live with her mother.  

"He doesn't have a job, and he gets frustrated sometimes..." she began.

Now, I'm listening.

"He cut her hair the other day... to punish her for being bad..."  

At this point, she is starting to cry.  

We got her daughter an open ended ticket, and her mom (grandma) a round trip one as well.  This little girl, just a few months older than my own little girl lives in a farm about 40 miles east of Manila, Phillipines.  She collects eggs from their chickens and can feed a handful of poultry and knows where to take the goat when he needs to graze.  She will be in the Philippines until her mother can figure out how to get rid of her husband, and they send me emails about her progress, and she is growing fast and strong.  Keep in mind this baby is 2 years old. 
Don't get me wrong, this doesn't sound like a bad way to live at all.  In fact, it sounds great. And fulfilling. and uncomplicated.   This client is just recently asking for a ticket so she can move back to the Philippines with her daughter.  Away from the abuse and the complications of America.  

This leads me to wonder, can't I take both aspects of living somewhere else and living here and make it wonderful?  Downside of living here as opposed to a foreign land... insurance companies.  Automated messages, robots who determine the outcome of your healthcare.  The need for money all the time, HUMONGOUS portion size and consumerist society.  Just the need to have more and more and more is so stifling.  The upside of living here?  Most diseases and nutrition problems are abolished with immunizations and proper sanitation in the city. People know that proper hand washing is what kills germs.   I don't have to take a two day trip to get my daughters or husband to a hospital.  If I want a certain kind of cheese from anywhere in the world I can more than likely get it almost immediately.  I have the freedom to go places if I like.  

Even though there is a higher risk of bad healthcare in third world countries, and basic societal functions are unheard of in most of them, this two year old girl who moved to the Philippines is still safer cleaning up after a goat, not washing her hands and then eating, than she was in her own little apartment alone with her stressed out, abusive father.  

There's something wrong with that.


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