I am writing this month’s newsletter having just come home to Los Angeles after a two-week trip to the West African country of Nigeria. This is my father’s birthplace, and we returned as a family after not having been for almost 25 years. It is so difficult to describe the experience. Nigeria is in many ways a beautiful country. The people we met were warm and welcoming and I was awed by the fierce sense of family and generosity of spirit. It is also, however, a country ravaged by corruption, poverty, hunger, illness and the constant struggle to meet even the most basic of needs. As I empty my suitcase, throwing clothes in the washing machine, lights on throughout the house and music playing on the stereo in the living room, I think of the children we met who walk over two miles each way, every day, to collect river water that is very likely contaminated. The idea of turning on a tap and having any water, let alone hot water, come out of it, is completely foreign to most of the population. Almost everything is done outside – cooking, washing, bathing – so as to utilize any available daylight. It is impossible not to feel shame at how much I take for granted, and yet to simultaneously breathe a sigh of relief that my father “escaped.” That he built a life in the US. That my brother, sister and I were given every opportunity that this country affords.