Thankfully this morning we had a lazy time, where we could sleep in and get a nice breakfast. Since the fruit had done well the night before, I knew it was okay for me to eat. It might not be very exciting, but at least I know it won’t do anything to upset my system! I decided to venture out and have some eggs with tomatoes, ham, and peppers in them. There are unknowns in this that could cause problems, primarily the oil and the ham. Mark and I tried to ask and figure out what the oil was, but we couldn’t get a satisfactory answer. I know that olive oil is okay, so I just prayed that that’s the kind of oil they were using! Thankfully, it seems that I’m doing fine, half a day later, so now I’m glad that breakfast is at least figured out. 🙂
After breakfast we all jumped in the vans to travel to the dump. Literally, we are going to the areas right around the dump where people who work in the dump live. The landscape slowly turns from the ritzy resorts to business areas to a long, dusty road. We follow a truck filled with what looks like garbage, and I was glad that the van had good shocks so that we were not flung all over the interior. This road is very bumpy.
Pretty soon we started to pass the clap-board houses that people who live around here erect. We explained to the kids that the people just take whatever they can find from the dump and build a house. It might be cardboard, or actually wood, or plastic, or old cloth. Whatever can be used to create a passable structure is used. Looking at these, one begins to wonder though how hot it is inside there and how on earth these “houses” could withstand any sort of rain at all.
As we passed we noticed a few kids in the dirty streets. They waved. Some had shoes on, some did not. We saw some people sitting in the shade, not doing much of anything. I asked our translator for some clarification on what it means that these people “work” in the dump, because in the US that would mean they have a paying job. Not here. Apparently, these people go in through the gate and sort things for recycling, but not for a wage. The garbage trucks come in, and the people start digging through the trash. They will take what they can sell and go and get what money they can for it, and this is how their family survives. It was not stated, but I’m sure that they take clothes and food when they can find it too. A stark difference from what we have in America, that’s for sure. I’m glad my kids are seeing this, and hope that it makes a difference in their lives.
We were not going to the School of Champions at this time, but another school that the local church helps. We passed by the SofC though, and were very impressed with it. It is hard to imagine that when The Rock Church first started coming down here there were people who actually lived in the dump, and kids would work there digging through the trash right along with their parents. There was no running water for them then, and things were much worse than what I see right now.
We turned onto the street where our school was located that we were going to. The roads are dirt surrounding the area, and the houses are very basic, made mostly out of brick or cement blocks. There is trash in the street, and dogs wandering aimlessly. The school is basically a bare-bones structure with an 8-10 foot high wall surrounding it and basic stone buildings where the kids can go to learn. There is a courtyard with two basketball hoops, a stone structure with faucets and clean water coming out, a kitchen, and lots of dirt. There are a few trees, but there is no sight of grass or other green anywhere within the walls. It looks very bleak.
I find out from our translator Veronica that in Mexico there is not the oversight that we have in the US public school system, and so many kids don’t go to school but instead help the family by working. But if the school feeds the kids, their parents will send them to school instead of out making money. If they are fed at school, the parents don’t need to worry about feeding them at home. A lot of these kids belong to people who work in and around the dump. Their life has almost nothing, and the future holds almost nothing. At least in the school, they can be educated, get a bit of food and juice, and have time to just be kids.
At first my 6 year-old son was very timid. He just hid behind me for the first 20 minutes, unwilling to even say “hola” to the kids. Pretty soon though I looked around and saw him playing with a bunch of boys. Even though he couldn’t talk with them, he was smiling, and for that I was glad. I want him to realize these kids are just like him. My 7 year-old daughter of course had a bunch of kids around her, holding court! She didn’t care much that she couldn’t speak Spanish.
We handed out bread, and filled up cups with watery juice, and gave refills when we could. The bread was day-old sweet breads and donuts. It had ants and other bugs in it, and some pieces were moldy. The kids didn’t care…it was food. We played with the kids, and they had fun talking with us even though we couldn’t understand them. Groups of them would surround us, all talking at once and smiling, and I had to just repeat over and over “No entiendo!” (I don’t understand!). It was very confusing to try and follow the Spanish when 5 or more kids were talking at once! We had fun though, doing what we could in interacting with the kids. We serve as a source of distraction it seems from normal life for them, and I am glad to be that. The gate to the school remained closed until it was time to go, and then they all ran off in preparation for another group to come. I imagine that this school could be open 24/7 and still not serve all of the kids in need.
Towards the end of our stay at this school one boy, Kevin, came up and asked me if I was going to teach English soon to the kids. Apparently he thought I was there to do more than just serve food! I told him that I didn’t know what our schedule was, and he seemed very disappointed. He asked me again, and I had to say that I just didn’t know what we were doing so couldn’t say for sure. Then I had an idea. Since there was nothing else for me to do while we waited to leave, I asked in my halting Spanish if he wanted to learn right then. His eyes got bright, he smiled big, and nodded a giant yes! I started simple with “hat” and “shoes” and “tree” and all sorts of other things around us. I would walk up to something and say, “Que es esto en Espanol?” (What is this in Spanish?). I would then say, “En English, es…..” and tell him the word in English. Pretty soon he and I were traipsing all around the courtyard where I would point to something, learn the Spanish word, and then teach him the English word. Every so often I would come back to something we already learned and quiz him. If he knew the word he came right out with it and was very proud of himself. If he didn’t his eyes would go big, and he would haltingly try to guess the word. It was quite fun, and I was amazed at how fast he picked up the English. Neither he nor I wanted to stop, but pretty soon it was time for us to leave. With the drive I saw in Kevin, I have no doubt he will do things with his life and escape this place. The School of Champions I have no doubt will help him in this.
We packed back up and drove to our 5-star resort. We ate and drank all that we could at the buffet, of all sorts of wonderful fresh food, and then took off to cool in the pool. Such a difference from what we just came from. Tonight we go back to the SofC and hold church, and get to just play with the kids again. I look forward to that.
BTW: Lunch I had the fruit again, and ventured into the stir-fry with chicken, carrots, broccoli, and peppers. We’ll see how that does. 🙂