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Filtering by Category: Kyle Fish

To Learn the Whole Story

Kyle Fish

by Kyle Fish

The local builder leading our work team in rural Guatemala resisted help from a group of volunteers. He took pride in the quality of his work, and he knew these volunteers didn’t have the experience or precision necessary to complete the water filter system correctly. One volunteer was angry: “What is this? I didn’t pay all this money and come all this way to stand by and watch someone else do the work.”

Another volunteer stayed out of the way. She busied herself pounding bent nails out of old boards, and calmly remarked how great it felt to be hammering out the injustice in the world.

These comments illustrate the attitude so many of us carry: we think that our money, effort, and good intentions earn us the right to help people we don’t know in a place we don’t understand.

That’s not how it works.

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What Is My Role?

Kyle Fish

by: Kyle Fish

I know the statistics. Patterns of discrimination and oppression. Inequalities in education, employment, housing, law enforcement, criminal justice. But this year those data points came to life. For two months I volunteered in the emergency department at the Los Angeles County and USC Medical Center, and the facts I’d read about became a lot more than facts.

Every day at the hospital I met people of color who had been failed by social structures and support systems that I take for granted. Young men who were victims of gang violence. Families denied housing, who used the emergency department as a haven from the streets. People whose lack of access to primary care created preventable health emergencies.

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