Sunday, September 04, 2005

Seven-thousand-five Hundred Amazingly Graceful Souls

My life changed today.
Heading to Kelly USA in a caravan of four cars this morning to see how we could help the largest Hurricane Katrina evacuee center in San Antonio, we walked into a building filled with 7,500 homeless, stunned, hungry men, women and children of all ages who have literally lost everything.
I'd say 95 percent of them were African American.
San Antonio is roughly 50 percent Hispanic, 40 percent Anglo and 10 percent African American, Asian and other ethnicities.
But today, San Antonio's Kelly USA was 100 percent American, and ethnicity didn't matter one bit, not to the evacuees and not to the volunteers.
One hundred percent of our welcome guests from New Orleans were polite, expressed lavish gratitude and waited patiently in blocks long lines for meals, tetanus shots, social security advice, insurance information and medical care.
I saw no angry faces, heard no voices raised and saw no aggression of any kind.
All morning, I cuddled with little children between 2 and 6 while their exhausted mothers, fathers and other adult guardians took showers, searched for clothes or otherwise took care of adult, parental and family business.
The children were sweet, affectionate and mannerly. I bonded with maybe eight or 10 of the little ones and kept running into them from room to room, always having them rush up to me for a hug or a little attention.
Around 10 a.m. I met a young man named Rahim, a 13-year-old with the most extraordinary dignity and maturity I have ever seen in a kid that age.
We sat down and he told me his story.
I am too emotionally spent right now to describe the way this kid told me his absolutely traumatizing story and how he managed to keep his composure like the Dali Lama the whole while.
But I will as soon as I can.

To be continued...


Unknown said...

you gave me goosebumps. I can not wait to hear the rest.

Karen Zipdrive said...

It's up, baby.