Team Leaders Week March 31-Apr 7, 2013
After a little time off from the blog with stomach issues, I’m excited to share the stories of my next week with you. Thank goodness for good antibiotics from Canada! I can’t help but think about the people here in El Salvador that don’t have access to such medications. I’m sure the stomachs of the people here are subjected to all kinds of bacteria that cause the same illness and they have to suffer through it. Of the people around the world trapped in poverty, 25,000 per day die and it often starts with something like what I just got relief from in a day with a simple prescription.
It was great to meet up again with all the other team leaders I met last year in El Salvador. We have a busy agenda this week with lots meetings along with building seven houses. Two of which are a two-hour drive from here, up in Santa Anna, right near the dump.
Monday morning we got right to work, building two houses here in San Vicente. Two beautiful families were so thrilled to be the recipients of the new houses. We had so much fun with the children again; I just never seem to get tired of spending time with the kids. The smiles on their faces are so special, even when we can’t understand each other most of the time. We colored pictures, made beaded necklaces and key chains, glued sparkly tattoos on arms and Val and Patricia gave the ladies pedicures & manicures. The ladies were thrilled, I’m sure no one has ever done something like that for them.
We took a walk down to the riverbank to see where the village people had to go to bath. We only hiked down about half way, and it was quite a hike. By the time they hiked back up after their bath, they would need another one! There were three kids just having a great time swimming in a pond in the river. They invited us to bring our swim suits back on Wed when we return to build two more houses. Not so sure any of us are up to it, but what a nice invitation!
Tuesday morning started bright and early with breakfast at 6:30 before our two-hour bus ride up to Santa Anna to build our two houses by the dump. Oh my……..what an experience that was! We met some ladies that make their living rummaging through the dump every day. They will dig through the dump for two days to find enough plastic milk bottles to make three dollars; a man will then come along with a truck and buy them from. One lady said she has her son in school and it costs her two of her three dollars to just get him to school.
Our entire team was moved greatly by our visit to the dump. Several blocks away you could tell we were getting close by the thousands of plastic bags that have been blown all over everything. It is absolutely appalling to think our fellow human beings are living in such conditions! No one should have to live like that. Many of these women take their children with them all day to root through the garbage. Imagine the dangers these poor people are subjected to day after day.
We felt a huge range of emotions. We didn’t want to make the people feel like we were gawking at them, but that we were there with love in our hearts and a desire to do something to help. As we pulled up in our big air-conditioned bus, we couldn’t help but feel mortified. Val described it by saying it was like a bunch of billionaires pulling up in front of our house and piling out of a big fancy limo and asking us about our lives. We tried so hard to make them feel the love we came to share. We prayed with them and hugged with them and left with thoughts rumbling around in our heads of how we could help them.
We met a remarkable woman named Sister Virginia. She runs a school for the children, most of the kids mothers work all day in the dump. While the youngest children were sleeping, we took a tour of the facility. The little boy in the red t-shirt used to go to work in the dump all day, every day with his mother. When Sister Virginia found out, she brought the little guy to the school. He now gets to spend the day clean, dry, well fed and loved. Imagine such sweet little children spending their days rummaging through garbage, eating whatever they can find!
It warmed my heart to see the love these men and women of the shelter have for the children. They volunteer there, with no guarantee of any wage. They put their faith in God to provide for them and for the children. Whether they get paid or not, they are there everyday looking after the children so they don’t have to go to the dump.
The older children were making paper machete piñatas. When we arrived they were having so much fun, they were saying “hello, hello” (in English) and giggling. I shot a little video of them and they just thought it was the greatest! The older children go to public school in the mornings and spend the afternoon there. It seems so sparse compared to what we would expect, but compared to where they could be, it was a huge blessing. We were all thinking of Mother Theresa when we met Sister Virginia, she too has dedicated her life to helping the poor.
What we saw today was heart breaking, what can we do to help? Today we built two houses in their neighborhood, that was a start, but we need to do so much more. What that will look like in the next few years, only God knows. But we must do something.