“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” – A TRIPS Reflection

As part of the St. Norbert College alternative break TRIPS Program (Turning Responsibility into Powerful Service), Lindsey Osgood ‘14 – along with five other St. Norbert students – traveled to the island of St. Lucia, West Indies this past month. The trip was focused on international poverty and the group partnered with the Good News Project of Wausau, WI. Service included home construction, painting, craft work, music, medical care, and visiting homes and prisons. The participants left on January 3rd and returned on the 17th. Below is a reflection by participant, Lindsey Osgood.

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By Lindsey Osgood ‘14

As I left Dunnottar School it was hard to hold back tears as I took back my camera from the young boy I was just getting to know. That morning I had not necessarily noticed the shy boy as we led activities, but as we sat on the porch eating our lunch, we noticed him gazing out the window, leaning on one elbow with his hand to his chin. He looked so pensive and all I wanted was a picture, but he retreated at the first sight of my camera.

A little while later I was surprised to see the boy had come out onto the porch by us. He stood silently behind the table where we sat. Before I knew it, I felt small hands playing with my pony tail…braiding. I asked him if we could have a picture together and again he withdrew. Yet, later as I was taking photos of the other kids, I could see his interest.  I asked him if he would like to take a picture using my camera. He nodded and gently took the camera from me – respectfully sliding the safety strap around his wrist. For the rest of the afternoon he was my camera man. Taking pictures seemed to give him an outlet for something he could not express in words. After a while he was even taking pictures of himself and allowing others to take pictures with him.

When the morning activities with the younger kids were finished and it was time for the volunteers to head down to where the older students were, he told me he was going to ask his teacher for permission to come with us. He of course continued taking pictures while we were with the older students and later he found that he had used up all the space on my camera.

I was talking to Walter, the Athletics Coordinator, when he approached me with concern. Walter asked me if I knew the boy’s story. He proceeded to share with me that this shy, young boy was currently living at the Boys Training Center (BTC) for troubled young men. Apparently as quiet and well-behaved as he was at Dunnottar School, out on the streets he had trouble keeping his cool and often got into fights. I couldn’t believe what I was being told. This boy, who I had come to know as the shy little photographer, was at risk for getting involved with violence and other trouble on the streets. I couldn’t help but think that with resources such as a camera to occupy his time, or a better home life or location, this boy would have so much potential. I felt as though I had witnessed a real life example of a quote by Gandhi that I had recently discovered: “Poverty is the worst form of violence.”

All I could do when it was time to go was approach him on the stairs, give him a hug, and break the news to him that I could not leave my camera behind. I told him that he was a wonderful photographer and that I hoped someday soon he would have access to a camera to take more pictures. He certainly represented a unique perspective on life. Finally, I told him to take care of himself and to behave well at the Boys Training Center. Then as I walked to the bus and took my seat, all I could hope was that with the help of Dunnottar School and the BTC, this boy – with so much potential – could find opportunity. I think sometimes that is all that a young person really needs.

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