Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Honduras Trip Days 3 and 4

There were about 100 of us total on the trip, so each day there were about 4 or 5 projects that we volunteered for. So while I am talking about what I did, just know that there were several other projects going on that I wasn't involved in.

Monday (our first day of work) several of us got to do something we've never done before. 15 of us that had been on several trips made about 300 baggies with half a sandwich, chips, cookies, and a bag of water and then we handed them out to the people that live at the city dump. The leader was trying to prepare us for what we might encounter: he said that we'd be hated and not wanted, that are safety was in question, and to be aware of the people (especially the men) because they sniff glue to lessen the pains of hunger. The complete opposite was true: we felt welcome, appreciated, and safe.

As we drove down the road, we turned a corner and the bus got silent at the sight of 100-150 people digging through heaps of trash trying to find food scraps, anything they could use to live, or anything they could sell, like plastic bottles. Everyone living there carried bags of their "treasures" and would not set it down for any reason for fear that someone would take it. Here, in the states, we put our purses, Ipods, phones, etc, down and if it gets stolen or broken we just buy a new one without thinking much of it. I can't imagine what it's like to hoard someone else's trash as my treasure that I cannot set down.

As we pulled the bus to a stop, a line formed immediately... they have been programmed what to do when a bus pulls up. We had buckets with fresh water and soap that we washed their hands with and, if we let them, would've washed their whole body. Then, they made their way to the back of the bus where several of us stayed to hand out the bags of food. However, when a dump truck came around the corner the line took off running after it because they each wanted the "best" pickings of the load. They ran away from good, never-been-eaten-off-of, food for garbage because that's what they have lived their lives doing. That was the saddest moment of the day for me.

Let's not forget that this is a city dump, so not only are these people competing against other people for survival, but there are dozens of dogs, millions of flies, and thousands of vultures (more than I've ever seen in my life) walking around digging through the same trash. And then there's the smell... a stench like no other you have ever smelled.

One sight that I will never forget is the sight of a young pregnant woman. Can you imagine being a young woman, probably 18-20 years old, living in the streets, being raped over and over again and winding up pregnant. You have no where else to go but to go to the dump, so you have to give birth in the dump and amazingly enough, you and the baby live through it without any doctors. And now you start raising the baby in the dump to live the same lifestyle without any hope of a different life.

There were a few men playing soccer with an old, flat basketball and several of our guys started playing with them. It was so wonderful to see the divisions of status being blown away by a simple game of soccer. These Hondurans are the untouchables of all Hondurans. And here they were laughing and playing together on piles of trash!

Everyone has a story; several were on the run for their lives, so they always kept ski masks and long sleeves on even in 90 degree heat. Another family came from Mexico in hopes of a better job, but that fell through and they had no where else to go. And the list could go on and on.

And as you are focusing on the absolute poverty, you look up and see the incredibly gorgeous view of nature that people in the states would pay millions for. We are so blessed with material possessions, we take them for granted, and are not content. Yet these people are content with their lives and have the faith that their needs will be provided. I want to be like the woman in the dump today... when we said we had enough to give out seconds and thirds, she said, "No, there are others on the other side that need it." In her utter poverty and desolation she was thinking of others!

Tuesday I went to the bodega (warehouse) where a group of us split up: half of us were taking stucco off to be redone and the other half were doing painting inside. I was doing the stucco outside and my right arm went into complete exhaustion when all you have to work with is a claw hammer.

While we were doing that another group was doing a "Gatorade Blitz" where they went to the store, bought a bunch of Gatorade, and then drove around town handing it out to the city workers that sweeps the streets and pick up trash. They earn about a dollar a day in wages and usually do not have anything to eat or drink during the work day.

Other activities included visiting the hospital, visiting orphanages, and building houses.


Post a Comment

<< Home