“Passengers sleeping in areas resembling campgrounds, getting by with lunch meats and fruit for food and using red plastic bags and ice buckets as toilets.“
“No power, no toilets, nothing. . . limited food and filthy conditions.“
“. . . No air conditioning, no diapers for babies, the toilets won’t flush and four-hour lines for food.“
And there’s sewage everywhere.
Honestly and truly, when the story first broke of the Carnival Triumph disaster and the conditions were described, my first thought was “this is how millions of people live around the world every day.” Where’s their breaking news? They don’t have the means to file lawsuits or the general recognition of their humanity by their governments for their deplorable plight to be acknowledged. It’s just as disgusting for them as for those passengers on the Triumph, though for them, there is no end in sight. No hot shower and soft bed waiting for them in a few days. If they die in those conditions, it won’t be on CNN. And certainly no one is going to compensate them $500 for their acute misfortune.
Refugees from Myanmar live on the city garbage dump in Mae Sot, Thailand. Entire families have built make-shift shacks on top of the piles of refuse. These are their permanent dwellings. The quotes at the beginning of this article describe it perfectly. For a visual, watch this news clip on youtube.
In Kibera slum, Nairobi, Kenya, thousands of residents defecate in plastic bags and leave them laying around because access to pit latrines is limited. There is nowhere else to “do it.” According to a resident “the waste produces a pungent smell, and when it rains, it floods our houses, and we are forced to move out. The lives of our children, too, are in danger because they play inside the filth.“ It’s been many years, but I’ve been to Kibera slum. And I’ve been in many other urban areas of Africa where slums like these are in abundance. But there we don’t call it a slum. It’s just how people live. Their neighborhood. Their town. Unsanitary, hot, humid, deplorable conditions.
Carnival Cruises quickly acknowledged they had failed their clients in many regards. No one should have to vacation in those conditions. How about live in those conditions? The general population will forget about this ordeal in a few days, if they haven’t already. However, Carnival will continue to deal with lawsuits and the public relations mishaps. I suggest as a gesture of goodwill, acknowledging no one should be submitted to those conditions, much less their clients, Carnival match its $500 donated to each passenger to a non-governmental organization that supplies eco-friendly, sustainable toilet systems and wells in the most reviled conditions on the planet. I’m sure Matt Damon’s organization Water.org would gladly accept the funds on behalf of Carnival Cruises. And there you have the perfect marriage of two issues that have recently been in the news but will be gone from the public good conscience in about five seconds.