Saturday, July 21, 2007

Rain in the Dry Land - Tokyo 20.07

"Rain in the Dry Land," a film done in 2006 by Anne Makepeace depicts 2 Somali families who immigrated to the states after more than a decade of living as refugees in Kenya after the outbreak of civil war. From Springfield, MA to Atlanta, GA, the journey of these two families speak forth the stories of thousands of Somali families that have resettled in the U.S. and many more that are still eagerly waiting for their departure dates each day.

The film points out many issues that gripped my heart. Issues with language barriers, communication barriers, understanding barriers; cultural differences, socio-economic differences, worldview differences; adjustment difficulties, resettlement difficulties, daily difficulties. There are moments of humor, laughter, and uplifting glimpses of hope in the film (and certainly a lot of them as revealed by the audience's response tonight); there too are affirmative steps taken and progress made to daily better the living situation of these immigrant families.

Still, this is almost like a collage of various urgent issues embedded within the act of border-crossing. Parents deal with the issues of affordable housing, reliable government stipend, available employment opportunities, and potentials to acquire new skills. Kids struggle with issues of language acquisition, cultural adjustment, peers relations, pursuit of dreams. The mother who runs a single parenthood family with 4 kids manages to get a job 9 months after the arrival, working as a genitor for $223 a month. The father of the other family was less lucky and took more than a year to finally find a job as a gardener/landscaper supporting his 4 children and one newborn baby.

How do you drop someone, who has always been a farmer and only knows how to be a farmer, to an urban city and expect him to survive and thrive suddenly as a fully functional human being mentally, physically, and emotionally? How do you convince a mom that it may be better to leave her children to daycare so that she could go out and earn a second income for the family rather than resorting to pregnancy as a medical condition that waives the work requirement set by the government?

How do you also expect a kid who has never written a single alphabet his entire life to suddenly understand algebra or do simple multiplications and divisions in his head? How do you too convince a teenage girl to follow the rules in class or at school when she has never been exposed to a corporate, social learning setting if not learning at all?

How do you even explain to the family, who take turns trying to twist open the safety cap of a bottle of cough syrup but repeatedly fail to realize that they need to first push hard the cap down before making a twist of it, the whole rationale behind such design of "safety"?

If I were a social worker assigned to assist one of those families, which of the above tasks would I pick to begin my assistance? Which one weighs better importance and which one deems greater sense of urgency?

If we are all presented with a sophisticatedly researched file on the top 10 most grave and urgent issues in the world that demand our immediate attention and resolution to do something about them, which imperative would each and everyone of us pick to work on within the best of our abilities and without jeopardizing our own interests, whether being personal, career, or financial?

How to strike a balance?

But before we ask ourselves this question, a more important question may be - would we even pick at all?

梅ちゃん at 3:04:00 AM



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