Not a word was spoken on the bus ride back from today’s trip. Our poverty seminar (where we talked about the causes of poverty, and how to help alleviate it), and Dreaming Nicaragua (the documentary we watched yesterday) did not prepare any of us enough for the images that we have now seen firsthand. Today was Poverty Day, when we visited The Dump, a heartbreaking scene that will be emblazoned in our minds forever. The Dump is just a dump. However, unlike most landfills, there are people, young and old, rummaging through each pile of trash, hoping and praying they will come along something of value. After breakfast, and our academic seminar, we journeyed only twenty minutes away (it’s amazing how our world can completely transform itself when we travel just a few miles) to visit Dona Franziska, an old lady who is in her late 70’s, although she claims that she feels only 15. Although we imagine a person in poverty to be someone to pity, Dona Franziska was kind and so content with her life. She has faced many hardships throughout her life, for example, facing the death of many of her children to preventable sicknesses. Even through so much struggle of death and poverty, she loves life to the fullest. She finds that every second of her time on earth has been a treasure, and that she is so thankful that she has a family that loves and supports her. Dona Franziska’s words made us all appreciate what we have at home so much more. Even though she lives in a one room house without any running water or electricity, and rummages through trash for a small income, she has so much love to share, and so much appreciation for her life.
After talking with the inspirational, kindhearted woman, we took our bus to The Dump. Children as young as 4 were taking care of their baby siblings, while their parents were scavenging through mountains of usually unsafe rubbish, trying to find a matching pair of shoes, or maybe some clothes or blankets for their families. The smell of burning plastic filled the air, and we all struggled not to swat at the dozens of flies swarming around us (lest the families at the dump get offended at our behavior). A woman at The Dump asked Humberto, one of our program coordinators, what we were doing, watching them at their workplace. He replied that we were learning awareness, and developing a larger sense of conscience. And it was very true. Emotions were running high all day, and every single Glimpser who viewed the life of those impoverished families felt guilty and ambitious. Each one of us wanted to alter the unfortunate lives of these people, or at least the lives of someone in poverty. All of us easily could put ourselves into the shoes of these people, and were so thankful that we live such privileged lives. We had the ability to leave The Dump after thirty quick minutes, and not ever be forced to return, but those who live or work at The Dump are there for ten or more hours each day for their whole lives. Everybody was so much more grateful for their lives. While us in first world countries gripe about our phones dying, or having to wake up to go to school every day, the impoverished people in Nicaragua never get close to a chance to complain about these things. They are stuck in a cycle of poverty, where children are forced to stay home from school, or are not given access to a school, which in turn leads them to work at The Dump with their families, and never be able to get a proper job, or a way out of their lifestyle.
When we arrived back at the hostel, we all took time to reflect together about our experience at The Dump. Many used words such as helpless and guilty, but those in turn transformed into words such as ambition, and power. We all were given a lot to think about, and all of us hope to make a difference by spreading awareness to people who may not know the dire circumstances in Nicaragua.
Then, we talked about our Community Action Project, in which we will actually be given the chance to support the people of Esteli by helping to redesign the courtyard of Fundacion Cristal (a school which has just been given a new campus, and needs help to fix it up before they open their doors in September). We started planning on a tree to plant, the design of our mural, and how to bring more of an upbeat vibe to the currently depressing grey walls. Once we had finished planning for our meeting with Fundacion Cristal (which will take place tomorrow), we headed off to our tutoring classes to make a difference in some more lives. Everyone learned a lot during our classes, student and tutor alike.
In all, today was a physically and emotionally draining day. We were shown how privileged our lives are, and we all took something out of our experience at The Dump. We are also very humbled and glad to be given the chance to help people, such as the children at Fundacion Cristal, and our students who are so eager to learn English.
P.S. We love and miss our families dearly, and love hearing your comments! Keep posting them, and thanks for reading!