Today was a completely eye-opening day, moreso than any of the other days that we’ve encountered so far. We got to see with our own eyes what true poverty was by going to the dump, which was about 5 miles away from San Cristobal. Now, you might notice that there are no pictures included with this blog. This is due to us wanting to be respectful to the workers at the dump. On the way there, many of us wondered how the dump was really going to be because we were in a different place compared to home. When we got there, what hit us more than just the smell were the dump workers, who are known as buzos. They go to the dump every single day, rummaging for any recyclables that they can find in order to sell and make a living. These buzos live in a whole separate community based around the dump, and the dump itself was a huge marketplace for many people.
Now, here’s a weird fact about the dump. The dump is government owned but the buzos, who pretty much serve as the workers of the dump, are not paid by the government. What made our meeting even more interesting was that not soon after we arrived, the San Cristobal Chief of Police greeted us and apologized because the mayor of the city wanted to meet us, but was unable to due to a medical emergency. He made sure to invite us to go and visit the mayor in his office, and when asked questions about the dump, heo talk about how good of a job the mayor did to make the dump more safe and to hold more waste by also creating a second dump not too far from the original. What he failed to talk about was the workers, who struggle every day to make a living and who receive no help from the government.
While bonding with the buzos there, we were all extremely shocked to see how proud and determined many of the workers were, even though they were going through tough times. With that in mind, we were all able to reflect on how much people in the United States take things for granted without ever thinking twice about it. Therefore, when we return to the US, we will without a doubt appreciate the basic resources that we have at our disposal (water, food, family). Let us also not forget just how strong of a government we have which makes sure everyone has an opportunity to go to school and have various programs that make sure no kid goes hungry- programs that would be a godsend here. Even those who aren’t here with us, should not forget to learn from our experiences and to conserve resources at home, because we are all privileged enough to have so many basic resources that millions of people in the world lack.
From ya bois in the Dominican, James 😉 and Fernando o-o