Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Soul in Service: Ruts or Privy Holes?
Unless you seek to be a channel of service to your fellow man, what kind of a channel will you be? Perhaps a ditch, a trough, or a rut; but these are not creative things!
There are probably as many answers to the question, What does the soul want? as there are living beings. But one universal requirement of the soul, it seems, is to be of service. Apparently it doesn’t matter to what or whom one is of service, as long as the connection is heartfelt and sincere.
In last night’s newspaper, for example, there was a wonderful story about a young man, 27-year old Derrick Logan, a native of our county, who went to sea on his uncle’s tall ship and discovered not just the world, but his own soul’s calling, as well. In the island nation of Vanuatu, on the island of Erromango, 22 miles inland on overgrown trails, he came upon the village of South River. A community of only twelve families who live mostly on bananas, coconuts and roots, they lack even the simplest of civilization’s offerings: basic sanitation, clean water, education and medical attention.
Even though, until the 1970s, Erromango's NeVan people were cannibals, they welcomed Derrick hospitably and he stayed with them for three months, and then again, for a second month-long visit. Clearly, these people had much to teach him about life, and especially the life of the soul: “They taught me how to take pleasure in the small things in life, like how to open and enjoy a coconut on a hot day, under the shade of a tree. This experience has changed my life forever, and for the better.”
Desiring to return something to the NeVan for all that he had received, Derrick asked them what he could do to help them. Their reply was surprising: he could supply a toilet. The current system of sanitation, simple holes in the ground, creates a high risk situation in which ground water is polluted and hepatitis A, giardia, typhoid fever and shigellosis flourish. Many people die of dehydration due to lack of clean drinking water.
Derrick is taking on the problem, single-handed. “When living in a privileged and modernized nation, we seldom give thought to the poor and developing communities around the world, and how even the simplest of every day necessities seem like impossibilities,” Derrick states in a grant proposal.
He is in the process of raising $20,000 that will enable him to install twelve Ventilation Improved Pit toilets, one for each of South River’s families. The VIP toilet is basically a concrete-lined hole, much like a septic tank, with ventilation pipes and a slanted roof. It is low-cost, keeps contamination out of ground water, prevents the spread of disease, stops flies and insects from breeding, is low-maintenance and promotes natural decomposition. In addition, Derrick plans to teach basic hygiene practices like hand-washing, lye- and soap-making, and methods for harvesting, conserving and purifying rainwater.
Who would imagine that what the soul wants is to build pit toilets on a South Sea island? And yet Derrick Logan is living proof that the needs and longings of the soul may be very far from what our ego-selves imagine or desire. So, if we’re going to dig in the soul’s realm for buried treasure, why dig a rut, when we can dig a privy pit, instead?!
Signs of Life:
Anyone interested in contacting Derrick Logan regarding his Modern Assistance, Knowledge and Education Project (MAKE) can do so by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, share this link with others on Facebook and other social media. Get the word out, so that Derrick’s project becomes the soul business of the world.