Hola Family and Friends! This is Abby and Zoe writing from the beautiful (and rainy) city of Constanza.
We started our day at 7AM blasting some TLC and Queen to wake up our fellow Glimpsers. Breakfast was a colorful plate of papaya, pineapple, eggs, bread, plantains, ham, and lemonade. Yum! Although some of our friends had to take a trip to the clinic today for a health check-up, we were reunited by lunch time to continue our day! After reminding everyone to leave cameras behind (out of respect for the workers) and strap on their hard-soled shoes, we headed to the dump for our first activity of the day.
This being the ninth day of our adventure, many of us were very tired so we used the bus ride to the site as a quiet time to rest before getting to work. After being dropped off at the top of the hill, the smoke and trash below were already visible. We trekked down the hill and got started by meeting some of the workers. We split up into small groups of three Glimpsers and one dump worker in each and then had the opportunity to inquire about their job, life stories, and experience living in Constanza. We learned that dump workers are not paid by the government but instead make a living off of how much trash they can collect and resell to local buyers. We also learned that it is important for them to collect all the trash they are able to before it gets added to the pile to be burned. Due to the fact that their salaries fluctuate based on how valuable the items collected are, most of them work six days a week from 7AM to 5PM. After hearing the workers’ stories, we had a kite flying contest with some snacks as a fun way to close our activity. Hearing the worker’s perspectives allowed us to reflect on how impactful waste is on our environment in addition to the need for government systems that aid those living in poverty. This experience caused us to feel very grateful for what we have and that although these problems are difficult to solve, we can help get the ball rolling by sharing our experiences with others when we return home.
When we got back on the bus, we were instructed to be silent and take the time to reflect on what we had just experienced. After arriving back at the hotel, we gathered for a self-reflection meeting. We tried to focus on answering the question of what is needed to break the cycle of poverty. We all agreed that education plays a major part in setting children up for success with the help of government intervention. Another thing we reflected on was that children often resort to going through the dump themselves in order to put food on the table at the end of the day or purchase basic necessities like clothing, rather than attending school. A solution our Glimpsers came up with was suggesting that schools provide meals to give families an incentive to send their children to school so they can both receive an education, and no longer need to resort to working at the dump.
Our group worked up an appetite and was ready for lunch by 12. We had pork chops, rice, soup, bread, and beans, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. After lunch we jumped right into our next activity by heading over to CECAINI School and CONANI. We arrived and were immediately welcomed by the principal, Wanda Quezada. CECAINI’s mission is to provide education and support to children whose families are living on only a few dollars each day. Quezada was an inspiring speaker who was extremely passionate about keeping kids in school and bettering their lives. One example of this passion in action is how she partners with the local Christian church to provide two meals a day to each of the 210 students. While at the school, we engaged with the children through face painting, basketball, and mural painting. It brought us an immense amount of joy to see the children leave behind any outside worries and just have some fun.
Our tight schedule lead us directly to our next activity… our third class of English Tutoring. It was fulfilling to further our connections with the students through education and see them improve tremendously after only three classes thus far. Although we usually walk back to the hotel from school, because there was rain and thunder, we decided to take the bus back.
After a jam-packed day of learning, teaching, and reflection, dinner could not have come at a better time for us Glimpsers. Dinner consisted of oatmeal, soup, rice, bread, and ginger tea to warm us up as the rain continued to pour down. The meal was delicious and led us right into our nightly meeting where we reviewed our day, read comments from previous blog posts, and gave some group shoutouts. Our long day left us exhausted, but eager to see what tomorrow has in store!
Zoe and Abby