This morning it was wonderful to wake up! Our family was exhausted, so we slept in. Around 8:30 I looked over at the kids’ bed to where my son lay. He was awake too, but neither one of us wanted to get out of bed yet. So instead, we both held our hands up and out, then drew them to our chest, and we gave each other an air hug. No words were said, but none needed to be said. I tried to go back to sleep, but it wasn’t working. So, I jumped out of my bed and jumped right in the middle of both my kids! I snuggled under the blankets, and they snuggled up to me, and we lay there in perfect happiness for a short time. A memory was made. 🙂
After breakfast we got in the vans to take us back to the same schools we have visited before. My group went back to the first school I went to, where I met Kevin. I so hoped that Kevin would be there. I wanted to see if he remembered any of the words we worked on! But when we got to the school, we found out the kids had been let out early, and most had gone home already. Only 15-20 kids where there, and none were the ones I remember. Still, we fed them and gave them juice. My son ended up playing peek-a-boo with a boy not much older than one, and it was fun to see him taking that initiative. It was also fun to watch the moms as my son played with their sons! We didn’t stay long, and then were on our way again.
As we drove on, Veronica took us by the dump so we could see it in the daylight. As we drove, I was able to get more details. Apparently this dump was the main dump site as recent as just a few years ago. It was that scenario that Linda came into when she asked to go where no American would go. The garbage would come to this huge open pile of stuff, and be dumped on the ground. Yes, people actually lived IN the dump. As soon as children could walk they were most often working alongside their parents, digging through the trash. There was no wall between the big pile of garbage and the neighborhood, and the houses were made of whatever they could find. Massive amounts of people lived and worked under its shadow. The sewage ran free down the streets, and when it rained a black stream of water would pour off the mountain of garbage and into the streets. I guess that the smell was horrendous, and in general, things were much, much worse.
Now, about 500 or more people live around the dump. The structures, some of them, are still constructed using whatever materials can be found. Many are basic brick structures furnished with the things that people found laying around that they could use. The kids still run half naked and without shoes, and the smell is still there.
A new dump was built a few years ago, and dirt was piled on top of the stinking pile of garbage that was here. I don’t know how high this dirt pile is that used to be the dump….I’m guessing 100 feet tall? It looks to me to be a couple of football fields long, and just as wide. I’m not good at measurements, and so it very well could be even bigger than that. Regardless, it is huge.
Now, all that comes into this location is the garbage that is to be sorted for recycling, and the main bulk of garbage is taken to the new dump. At the new dump, they do not allow people to work among the garbage. But here, at the old dump, a small population of people still makes their living sifting through the rotting stuff that other people throw away. That was who we saw, and those are the people that we fed. They still are I believe…the poorest of the poor.
The church that we work with here has done an amazing job. Their pastor, Saul, has said that he doesn’t need to rest as long as there is work to be done. “I’ll be dead soon enough and I can rest then,” he has told some of our group. I like that attitude. Right now, the church feeds 1,100 kids a day. A DAY. That includes the kids at the dump, at the schools, and I believe at the 4 daycare centers that they run. And there is sooo much more that they do. This church is a GIVING church, and because of that they have made a huge difference in this town. Veronica said that about 20% of the money needed to run all the programs comes from sisters churches like ours. The rest comes from the church members. Wow! It is amazing what can be done when God’s people give.
Even though there is not much garbage being dumped at the old dump, there are still tons of buzzards that surround the area. As we drove through I first thought the dark spots were cows, they seemed so big, but it didn’t make sense that there would be cows on the side of the dump. Pretty soon I realized they were these huge birds, looking for a meal. I cannot even imagine a small child chasing one of those things away for a half-eaten sandwich.
We drove past the dump, and then visited one of the daycare centers. The parents pay $60 US a month for their child to come here. For that, their child gets 3 meals a day, full care while there, and preschool and kindergarten services. It sounds like a lot compared to what the people at the dump make, but the people who send their kids here are in a different class than those of the dump. The kids were so cute at this school…splashing in a little kiddie pool, and the workers were all nice and seemed to love what they were doing. I was glad to see one of these centers so that we could get a better idea of more of what this local church does.
This afternoon we simply swam, a lot. I’m pretty tired, but I’m not sure if that’s from the heat and sun, or if it’s this Crohn’s again sapping everything I have. Or, could it be the lack of true sustenance for me? Not sure. I know how to push through, and that’s what I’m doing. I woke up with a small ache in my side, so I’m wondering if the Crohn’s is acting up. Es la vida, no?
Tomorrow we’ll go shopping in a local market, and then tomorrow night at least Jacob and I will go back to the dump. My son wants to go. I will not stop whatever drive is in him right now.
Tonight after we got back into the room I left to find a quiet spot to myself. Hah!!! There are not any quiet places in a resort filled with people drinking all they want, whenever they want! Regardless, I went down by the ocean and found a lounge chair away from everything else. I was going to do a bit of a bible study I brought, but I ended up just sitting, looking at the clouds, and listening to the waves crash below me. It was a much needed time for me to just breathe, and do nothing else. I reflected on this trip, on the people, and about all that God is doing. It’s all good, and I look forward to whatever He brings into our lives.