ISU Monologue:

From the American People

As a warm morning breeze rolled in through the window, I awoke from a short, uncomfortable sleep. I rolled over and came to the realization that today is the day. Today is the day that I have been waiting for all year long. It is the day of the spring harvest. Today will provide us with enough money to make it through the next year. If it weren’t for today, I don’t know if my family and I could go on. Not only will our crops help us, but they will feed many starving locals as well. Today is a great day for me, my family and the village of Sogodougou, Mali.
            As the sun rose in the sky, my two young sons helped me pack baskets full of millet. This year’s harvest would provide food for almost 180 people, close to half of Sogodougou. After five years straight of devastating droughts, this was finally our year. Once the baskets were full, we loaded them onto the back of our mule. I said goodbye to my family and ventured off into the hot, desert sun. It would take me about seven hours to reach the main road to Sogodougou. After reaching the road, the journey would be another two hours to the actual village. It would be a long and treacherous day full of countless threats and dangers. Taking a mule down such steep cliffs is very risky; however, it is the only option.
            I finally reached the road that led to Sogodougou. The road – if you could call it that – was simply a path molded by other mules and local farmers. But today, the path was different than usual. There were tire tracks along either side of the path. I noticed that they were very far apart, probably meaning a large vehicle had driven into town recently. Large vehicles are not very common to the area as mopeds and donkeys are the main modes of transportation. I did not think much of them and continued on my journey.
            As the sun began to set, I eventually reached the village. I looked around at all of the poor, hungry faces and began to smile. The locals however, did not smile back. They each looked at me with the expression of guilt and sadness. I couldn’t figure out why, as the people of Sogodougou were always such kind and happy people. I began to feel nervous and confused about the entire situation. As the mule trotted down the road, I noticed something in the distance. My heart suddenly sank and I knew exactly what was happening. At the end of the road, was a large, white truck. The side read ‘USAID, From the American People.’ White, uniformed men were unloading the truck and handing out its contents to the villagers. The contents were aid packages, sent from the United States. They contained food, water and various necessities that the locals could live off of. In a small village like Sogodougou, it would take no time at all to provide everyone with enough food to last them a long time. I suddenly realized that my millet, no longer had any value to the village of Sogodougou.
            So much work, all for nothing. The next village was another 100 miles away and for all I knew, aid packages had already been delivered there. I returned home the next day with my mule. Packed into baskets was the same millet I had left with, as well as one of the aid packages. My wife ran outside to greet me and immediately broke down when she saw what I was carrying. “USAID, From the American People” she read aloud. I looked back at her with great disgrace and said, “How can I compete with that?”

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