For about three years I have been regularly working at Food for All DC each Saturday. We deliver boxes of food to home bound individuals in DC. It has got me to visit many parts of DC most other strive to miss and consider unsafe. Nothing bad has ever happened to me, but I have got to see how bad others in DC have it.
In 2009, we started getting lots of volunteers that work for Deloitte. Deloitte encourages their employees to do such volunteer work. One week a engineer from Deloitte showed up. He and I went out to do a route together in SE DC across the river, aka the bad part. He had just moved to the US, from India, so I did the navigating.
He stayed in his car for all by the last delivery when he finally mustered up the courage. The client’s apartment turned out to be the worse I have ever seen. It was a small dark and dank apartment in the basement of a horrible building with broken doors and windows. The client was woman that had both legs amputated at the knee. She was on her bed in the living room. I was pretty sure she had not been off that bed for months based on the smell and the filth. Next to her was another woman who was coughing and hacking terribly. She sounded like she had tuberculosis. The few small kids running around just seemed friendly but dazed. The young boy I tried to talk, maybe about 7 years old, just could not speak clearly. I am not sure why, but suspect it was a combination of horrible nutrition and the insane amount of mercury and lead poisoning in these areas.
As we drove away, the engineer from Deloitte mentioned they were just like the untouchables in his home country. At first that made me very mad as I have always despised the caste systems of India. As time has passed, I know he was right. Their lot and prospects in life are really no better.