MOBILE, Ala. – Citizens of Niger and Burundi, the second and third poorest countries in the world have banded together to send CARE packages and relief assistance to passengers stranded on the Carnival Cruise ship that lost power and was stuck at sea due to an engine fire.
Said Allawa Mondono, a farmer in Niger who earns roughly $1.10 a day, “We know how it is to live without power, running water, sanitary bathrooms and Off- Broadway revues. What’s ours is theirs. Our hearts go out to the victims of the luxury cruise ship.”
Then he added, “By the way. Normally I make $1.20 a day. But things are a little slow now.”
Usuela Balinga, a nurse’s assistant in Burundi, who was donating a goat’s head and oxtails, said her husband was mad at her for assisting the passengers.
“My husband said, ‘Usuela, why are you helping them? They are much richer than we are.’ I told him, ‘No, husband. It cannot be true. CNN, the world leader in news, devoted hours of programming to the horrible conditions on the Carnival Cruise ship story, and has never run a story about poverty in Burundi. So that proves they are much worse off than we.”
Meanwhile, passengers on the ship were entering their sixth day without internet service and their ninth day without shuffleboard, although, as Jack Bergman, an 82 year old self-described “regular” on the cruise put it, “I can’t imagine why a power outage would affect shuffleboard, of all things.”
The President of the Congo, the world’s poorest nation, sent a telegram to the Carnival Cruise captain, apologizing that his country couldn’t send aid, because “We are still being roiled by internecine warfare.” However, he did strike a hopeful note when he added, “We are close to arranging a 48 hour truce with the rebels so that together we can send you something in your time of need.”
Jill Framingham, a spokeswoman for Carnival Cruise Lines, said, “To show our profound appreciation to the poor people of Niger and Burundi who are helping our passengers, we’re offering them a ten percent discount off any cruise during the next year.”