We went to the garbage dump this weekend in Guatemala City. You can probably picture the scene if you’ve attended enough church services. Garbage trucks dumping hundreds of thousands of pounds every day and people waiting eagerly to receive the garbage and to scavange through it for anything that might be worth the value. As Crystal, an Spring Arbor Grad living in Antigua, “This is Guatemala’s recycling program”.
A profesor of sociology and theology said that, “In the States, people recycle because it makes them feel good about themselves and it is good for the environment. Here people recycle as a means of survival”.
The shocking thing to me wasn’t the people picking through the garbage. I expected that. What I did not expect were the herds of vultures surrounding the basurero (garbage dump), the history of how thousands of people died in a fire because they were living in the dump, and the stories of people who live in the dump.
The people are scavengers. These birds are the scavengers of the scavengers. I cannot imagine working in such horrid conditions day after day after day. There is a popular contemporary Christian song that goes something like “break my heart for what breaks yours”. I think this song is only true if there is a true divide between the truly poor and the truly rich. Economically, that is. It would be impossible to not have some sort of internal conflict when, after seeing these people living like this, you sleep in a comfy cozy hotel room. With floors that aren’t made of dirt.
Here are the vultures.
Today I heard Jeff Barnes of the local Project Common Hope (Familias de Esperanza) say that about 60% of Guatemalans live in Poverty, and about 30% live in absolute poverty.
There are countless numbers of statistics like this that can often be discouraging, but I believe that there is hope here. The Quality of life here is actually improving, little by little, poco a poco.
We watched the film Reperando on Saturday which talks a lot about Guatemala and a neighborhood La Limonada. They look something like this:
Reperando is an incredible film created by Scott Owen Moore that turns the otherwise pessimistic situation in developing countries into an opportunity for hope and change. To get a better idea of what life is like in Guatemala, I would definitely recommend getting your hands on this movie and watching it. Here is a short clip of the movie via YouTube.
I know, I know, I know. Lots of videos on this site to watch. I just think that they are an excellent way to portray ideas these days. Especially when I don’t really have the time to write out my own thoughts.
This week is my last week of Spanish class, and starting next week I am hoping to start volunteering with a few different organizations. Possibilities include:
Nuestro Ahijados: Working with some sort of research to do with Human Trafficking in the area
Familias De Esperanza: Some sort of Education, or working with a library, or just doing whatever they need me to do.
Caoba Farms: A local organic farm that gives you veggies whenever you volunteer.
Hope Haven: An organization that works with making wheelchairs for handicapped people.
For now, I am still studying Spanish with intense dedication!
I think that some day all this studying will definitely pay off.