MyLife Changing Moment
Icome from an upper-middle-class family. My parents owned a big beachrestaurant where my two siblings and I spent our weekend swimming,playing and enjoying other entertainment forms our restaurantprepared for tourists. For seven years, I made several internationaland local friends from wealthy families that could afford to stay atmy parents’ resort. In fact, I rarely made friends at school, as Ibelieved that most of my classmates came from humble backgrounds.Either my father or my mother would drop and pick me from schoolevery day. On the contrary, majority of my schoolmates used bicycles,public transport, and others the school bus. Everybody wanted tobefriend me, but I snubbed him or her because I felt superior, and Ineeded neither friends nor any form of support. I carried specialdiets from home because I feared the school and canteen’s dietswere not up to my standard.
However,I made a resolution to change the way I treat people in last week ofAugust 2005. I reached the decision after Hurricane Katrina damagedour house and my parents’ restaurant. We lost everything includingcars and clothes (Palser 8). Actually, I consider myself fortunatethat I survived the tragedy as I had swept away by strong watercurrents. Luckily, I was deposited on top of a tall palm tree. I hadstayed on top of the tree for more than ten hours before the stormsubsided, and a rescue team could assist me.
Therescuers took me to an emergency camp for medical checkup. The centerwas overcrowded, and food supply was limited. Almost everyone wascrying and shivering in the cold. I felt lonesome because I wasdetached from my relatives and could not take my regular high-classdiets. Since I was hungry, I decided to take a walk and see whether Icould find anything to eat as I searched for my family. I walkedabout ten meters and came across a bun that was slightly covered withmud. I grabbed it and began munching on it hungrily. I did notremember to check whether there was anyone watching my actions sinceI needed food desperately. After eating the dirty cake, I realizedthat everyone was staring at me in shock and disbelief. I wasrenowned for my pride arrogance. Others were smiling mockingly whilethe bold ones taunted me, “Welcome to the world of scavengers. Soonyou will discover even recycling your stool for a day’s meal!”
Icould not bear the humiliation. I began running aimlessly withintention of going as far as possible from the individuals mockingme. I came across a tarmacked road and attempted to stop speedingprivate cars, but the drivers sped off as if they did not see me.Finally, I gave up hitchhiking and resolved to walk to the nearesturban center. I did not know where I was because the rescue teamairlifted me to a desolate location where everyone affected by thedisaster assembled. I came across the first urban center at dusk. Ihad no cash for purchasing food or hire a hotel room. Peopleoccasionally abused and threatened me with beating when I approachedthem either to ask for direction. Some called me a street urchinbecause I was dirty. Nobody bothered to listen to my story. Theychased me away while one fast food operator shouted at me to standthree meters away from his business because she knew what I wanted.She gave instructions to one of her waiters who emptied foods thecustomers threw away in a big polythene paper. They then threw it tome and instructed me to inform my fellow beggars not to come for morebecause they had no more waste food.
BeforeI could pick the food, a group of street children dashed for it. Iran after them shouting that I was the owner of the food – theproud girl who could not eat school food because it was allegedlycontaminated. I began crying as I walked away in confusion. Anelderly and shabbily dressed man whom I initially mistook for aninsane person called me, “Young girl? Come and have food with us.”I reluctantly walked towards a shark made with sacks and polythenepapers because I was desperate for some love. I discovered that theold man was homeless and has never had a family. Besides, thechildren in his company were orphans that had nobody to help them.
Ihad stayed with the homeless family for ten days prior to reunitingwith my family. The hurricane disaster changed the way I deal withother people, especially the poor and homeless because I nowunderstand the pain of society rejection. People chased me away whileothers ignored me because I resembled street children. Afterrecovering from the hurricane’s destruction, I encouraged my fatherto start a foundation for helping the homeless and the poor. I alsolearned the significance of humility and respect for everyoneirrespective of their socioeconomic status, race or background. I amnow friends with people I previously despised for I thought they werebelow my standard.
Palser,Barb. HurricaneKatrina: Aftermath of Disaster.Minneapolis, Minn: Compass Point Books, 2007. Print.