Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It's not a news story, but I couldn't get it out of my head

One of the blogs we follow had a compelling post about encountering poverty in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While it is not a news story, we thought we would share it here, because we haven't been able to get the word pictures out of our head since we've read it.

The story comes from one of our favorite blogs Flower Dust.net. Anne Jackson is the author.

after making the rounds at several adult establishments to hand out roses to the ladies who worked at them, we went to the almost condemned alamo motel.

the cold air kept the prostitutes indoors, yet we managed to stop by one motel room where we knew we’d find a lady the team has gotten to know over the last little while. she answered the door in a house robe and hair net.

we’ll call her miss ella.

miss ella lives in a motel room no bigger than 300 sqaure feet. some of the surrounding rooms still have boarded up windows and are missing pieces of the roof, but miss ella’s room managed to weather the rounds of hurricanes that hit baton rouge over the summer.

the thing that surprised me about miss ella wasn’t the fact that she’s a grandma. but that she is a grandma with six (usually seven) kids (and a dog) living with her in her small, god-only-knows-what’s-happened-here motel room. as i peered in a crooked door frame, mattresses covered the floor and baskets of clothes were scattered around.

this was miss ella’s home.

we gave miss ella a rose and some candy to her grandchildren. one of the ladies i was with asked why one of miss ella’s granddaughters stayed covered up under some blankets, and why she wasn’t coming to the door for her candy.

“is she sick?”

“she doesn’t have no clothes,” miss ella said.

we talked more with miss ella and what appeared to be her eldest grandson came to the door wearing a light purple windbreaker (circa 1984) and matching running pants. evidently he had recently returned to the care of miss ella after getting into some kind of trouble. we asked him if he’d go back to school soon. he said no.

“he don’t have no clothes to wear to school,” miss ella replied, matter of factly.

alliece, the brilliant and beautiful woman who heads up the baton rouge dream center, as well as this midnight outreach we were on, told miss ella to come by the center for some clothes on sunday. they would take care of him, and make sure miss ella had anything else she needed.

after we prayed with her, i climbed back in the shuttle, headed back to my own hotel room, which was probably the same size as miss ella’s, if not a tad bigger. but i had my room all to myself. perched high up on the 18th floor, i was far removed from any pimps or prostitutes or drug deals or rats or roaches or mold. i didn’t consider latching the door behind me because subconsciously i knew i was completely safe.

it was a contrast i’m far from forgetting.

No comments: