Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture

Blog Editors

Recent Posts

HALO Trip - Arizona in Images

20 March 2012 – Saint George Day 2: On Medicaid and Zion National Park

19 March 2012 – Saint George Day 1: Utah Legal Services at the Southern Utah Community Legal Center

18 March 2012 – To Saint George, Seven of Us Go!

17 March 2012 – HALO Departs for Spring Break 2012!


On the Streets

Posted By MWT, Mar 24, 2009

Ji-hyun gave an introduction already to Paulyn and the wonderful work she does, so I won't repeat it here.

As we were driving around yesterday near one of the many condemned, burned out, and/or abandoned houses, a group of people saw the van and flagged us down. One of them, a man named Jerry, stands out particularly in my mind. The way he was joking around and teasing Paulyn was also a reminder that no matter how hard these people's lives are, life is still a precious thing and there is much to be joyous about. It was not until later that we found out that he had recently lost his wife to cancer in a very sad way, but what was even sadder was that his kind of story was not uncommon. In the span of half an hour we met 3 people who had cancer of some kind, with no healthcare or any way to pay for the treatments they needed. I had heard about the environmental pollution in East St. Louis, but the people it affects most deeply have no power to stop it or clean it up.

Driving on the streets of East St. Louis for those hours, we saw thousands upon thousands of homes and businesses that most people would be ashamed to have in their own neighborhoods. Most downtown business associations would have an apoplectic fit if one of their buildings had twenty broken windows, bars on the windows, parts falling off the roof, a faded sign with most of the letters missing, and a liquor store fronting drug dealing. Some people, like Paulyn, care and can do something to help. Jackee, another woman who works at the Continuum of Life Care Center, made the memorable comment that people have no problem donating things of theirs to the center, but it's difficult to get people to donate their time. I think this is absolutely true; spending time in the community has opened my eyes to the terrible things that can happen right here in this country, on somebody's watch. The current state of East St. Louis is not something that happened overnight, but it happened startlingly fast. In 1965, it was struggling, but still growing. All signs of that growth have been completely wiped out, and if I were to imagine what a war zone looked like, this would be it. It seems to be humanity v. poverty, and you can imagine which one has the upper hand right now.