I took this specific day because the topic of poverty in developing countries has been on my mind a lot this year. Earlier in April 2013, I had visited the poorest country here in the Americas, which was Haiti. I had seen poverty at its worst and still to this day, I still remember Haiti as a place where work needs to be done. We learned at the seminar that poverty is caused by the 5 P’s (Past, People, Politics, Peace, and Place). I realized that there is a corruption in this nation that is unlike most countries. The Sandinistas and the Contras have had a history of numerous outbreaks and revolts. Unfortunately, the government still has no support for many things here in Nicaragua. One of the areas where the government does not help is the city dump (Esteli Basurero).
Visiting the dump, I realized that everyone else may not have seen poverty at its worst like I have. My first reaction of the area was that I knew life at that part of Esteli was poor. The houses are shacks and the roofs are just pieces of metal. The walls are made of wood and the fences are barbed wired and covered with bags similar to trash bags. Many questions were going through my mind like, “How do they live this way?” or “How are they even surviving?” Unfortunately, these men and women have to accept what they have and sustain a rough life. When we actually went to the dump, everyone was shocked and it was hard to look for everyone. No one wanted to see piles of trash with flies hovering over them. Prior to today, the leaders, Whitney and Javier, had told me that the dump had over 400 dogs and many vultures. The trash contained chemicals that would eventually decompose and break down to hazardous air particles. One thing that amazed me was that the dump was home to many people. Some Estelians had been born in the dump and died in the dump. As a place where I call a dump, some call a home. Francisca, the Basurero leader, had shared many stories and answered all the questions that we had for her. It was really hard to know what kind of life she was living. It got to me that not everyone has it as good as we do back in the United States. There are people living on this planet that have a terrible life that they just have to accept. Francisca has several kids and some pursue dreams that even I can relate. One kid yearns to be an engineer and another wants to be a doctor. Its dreams like this that make me feel guilty. I know for a fact as a fellow Silicon Valley citizen, that there are so many opportunities for me to succeed. Here in Nicaragua, may not be the same and these kids and others may not actually achieve these dreams.
Overall, it was a really impactful day. Everyone was silent on the bus ride back and the thoughts of the visit to the dump was flowing through everyone’s minds. I’m really thankful for what I have and I hope everyone else on my delegation relates. It’s been a great first week, and I can’t wait for what these next two weeks have in store. I miss home, but whatever, I’m out here for a reason.