Notes from a Home Visit

I knew we were close, but I didn’t see any homes. I thought our destination must be one of the small outdoor kitchens used for cooking over fire. It wasn’t until I noticed a shabby wood door that I realized I was looking at a home.


That’s it.

I saw a look pass over the mother’s face when she saw four of us walking in her direction. It was clear she had only one seat to offer.  She immediately dumped the bucket of soapy water she was using to wash clothes and turned it upside down to make another seat.  She then ripped the newly cleaned sheet from her clothesline and placed it on the dirt so we could sit without getting dirty.

Throughout our whole visit she stood.  That’s what I remember most. That after all the trouble she went  through to offer us a place to sit, she stood. I felt a pit in my stomach and wanted her to stop offering us the little she had. I think that’s what true guilt feels like. Raw, in the moment guilt, feels like being punched in the stomach and being ashamed to look up.

I wanted to write my family to describe her home but I couldn’t find a room in my apartment small enough to compare this house to. Saying it was smaller than my parents’ closet made the house sound bigger than it was. There was no use describing all of the things it was missing – windows, a bathroom, a kitchen, electricity. It was easier to describe what was there. One bed shared by three people and one shelf. That’s it.


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