June 16, 2009
This afternoon, I got a visit from a family friend who works on the floor below me. She kindly brought me some fruit in a tupperware container and a bag of Colombian cheese snacks. The obvious expectation was that I would return the tupperware tomorrow when I will have lunch with her, but I lost it.
When I got on the elevator this afternoon, I had to hold the door for a man who was nervously picking up three or four tiny strips of paper. When he got on, we started talking. He is a recently displaced person from northern Antioquia and was trying to get all his documents together to get displacement benefits.
Being displaced is difficult, party because proving displacement is time-consuming and expensive. This man has been living on the streets around the mayor's office because he goes to the 11th floor every day to process yet another document. He is making slow process and may or may not be on his way to some very helpful government subsidies.
Once I saw his place of residence on the street and his official displacement letter, I was reasonably convinced that he was telling the truth. One of his biggest problems is that both passersby on the street and people at the mayor's office are reluctant to help him. Many people have lied about being displaced in Colombia and many more who are actually displaced often expect the government to solve all their problems.
Therefore, most people hesitate before trusting someone who claims to be displaced. They don't want to feed liars or encourage begging. I have gradually learned to be the same way, but as I rushed to my taxi, I gave the man my tupperware full of fruit.
As my taxi slowly made its way through a traffic jam, I looked for the displaced man through the afternoon crowds and found that he was already halfway done with the fruit. If he wasn't displaced, he was at least hungry. But I still feel guilty about losing the tupperware and have to find another one by lunchtime tomorrow.
Posted by Pablo Rojas at June 16, 2009 07:26 PM
Posted by: nadia at June 20, 2009 02:01 AM