The day Celeste and I chose to be leaders of was “Living on a Dollar a Day.” This day was very emotional and heart hitting for everyone in the Global Glimpse group, but ended up being fun and everyone ended the day with a smile. The day began the night before when we turned off all electricity and used candles for light. We also took bucket showers and did not use running water. The next morning everyone woke up at 7 and ate a minimal breakfast of gallo pinto and water. It was strongly encouraged that no one eat any snacks during the day so that we would be able to fully immerse ourselves in the experience of living on a dollar a day. The next thing we did was to gather donations for the families for the Saraguasca community we would be travelling to later that day. Unfortunately the soccer ball that we planned to bring would not hold any air. This was especially disappointing because a man in the community had been calling Julia, one of the Global Glimpse leaders, every day for weeks asking if she would bring a ball.
When we got there everyone was a bit culture shocked, but the people were very welcoming and kind. Everyone split up into groups of three students per family. At our nightly meeting we heard that students spent time sweeping the dirt and garbage outside, cooking, washing dishes and clothes, teaching their families how to make friendship bracelets, playing cards like UNO, and throwing baseballs. Some people even hiked to a pond of stagnant water that the families collected to drink. It was shocking to see the houses no bigger than a small room constructed from flimsy materials like tarps and random pieces of wood. These houses were home to families as large as seven or eight people.The kitchen was an open fire with no chimney to let the smoke out. These families were living in homes with dirt floors, next to nothing for food, and there was no protection from weather. Yet despite hugely unhealthy living conditions, the people in this community continued to survive and persevere. The strongest connection between our group and the community came from knowing that in the end we are all humans. Even with a language barrier and extreme differences in life circumstances, we all shared something that brought us together.
After sharing a packed lunch of rice mixed with spices and vegetables with the family, everyone headed down to a field to play frisbee with the children of the community. At this point some of the kids were hugely attached to our group. Many held hands with the students and wouldn’t let go. As we started to play with them some got piggy back rides or watched while the frisbee was tossed around. Several times the frisbee got stuck in the branches of a tree, and we were surprised when the kids began to throw huge rocks trying to knock it down. It was really funny, although scary. One kid from the community got hit in the back by accident but didn’t seemed fazed at all. This was a realization for many of us, that these people had been toughened by the circumstances that they battled just to survive.
After a couple of hours it was time for us to go, and it was very hard for many of us because of the bond we had made. We saw the joy that they had in things as simple as throwing a ball or receiving a hair tie, and we wanted to stay and share some laughter for a little while longer. I think that this is a day that no one in the group will forget, and I think it is a day that caused a permanent and significant change in perspective for all of us.
When signing up to be leader for this day, I thought it would be challenging to not get sad or down. And although it was hard to be in the middle of such deep-rooted poverty, and feel it in your heart, it was also a day that made me very happy. One of the little boys in my family was extremely quick and picked things like UNO up in less than a minute. He always had a huge smile on his face and things as small as coloring a page in a book or throwing a baseball made him light up. Then, at eleven, his mom handed him a pill to take, and my group asked what it was for. His mom answered that he was sick; he had a hole in his heart. This was a moment in the day that was extremely hard to process. To see the potential in any human being crushed by disease or other factors is devastating.
I was so proud to hear that everyone in the group felt deeply changed in their way of thinking, and felt that they could take something from this experience to learn and grow with. I was so glad that we were able to support each other and end the day with a positive attitude. This was important to experience because reading facts and statistics can never come close to being in the middle of a situation. A statistic does not show you the ribs that poke out from every animal, or the desperation that the people have while they eat. It does not show you the tiredness in the eyes of a mother whose only job is to keep her family alive. A statistic can not replace personal interaction and I think everyone will be forever grateful that we were able to have that interaction.
Seeing these families made me miss my own and I think this is true with all of the students. We miss you so much and we hope you are doing well without us! Although being homesick can be hard, we know how amazing this trip is for us and we will continue to make the most of it.
Sending love and hugs!
-Meghan and Celeste