Hola familias!

Today was a day full of emotions.  We had a chance to speak with the locals working at the community dump as well as play with the kids at one of the CECAINI schools.  After an early wake-up call and a delicious breakfast, we headed to the local dump.  The dump itself is literally just a huge piece of land full of garbage.  Most of the area was burning or smoldering and about thirty workers were looking through the trash for salvageable items while stray dogs wandered around looking for food.  The smoke from the fires was strong and hard to breath and many of us teared up a little when we realized this is where many of the workers live day-to-day.

We had the opportunity to speak with some of the workers at the dump and listen to their stories in small groups.  My group talked with Andy, a young twenty-year-old man who has been working at the dump since he was 16 years old.  Andy wakes up very early every morning to head to the dump to find things he can resell for money.  For example, Andy collects scrap metal and sells it to a recycling center. This young man has been one of the most inspiring people I have met in my life because he is positive and outgoing in spite of his living circumstances.  He is humble and determined, he has dreams for his future, and he works hard to sustain his family while he continues to attend school.  After graduating, Andy will attend the university to study agriculture.  As he was answering our questions he always seemed motivated and positive.  He never complained about the conditions he endures at the dump.  He is a very determined, dedicated, and grateful man who values everything he has in life.  After speaking with the workers, we had a round of “Big Love” where we expressed our gratitude to the workers for sharing their stories with us.  Being the sincere people they are, they also expressed their gratitude to us for taking the time to go and visit them and listen to them.  We recognized that the workers have a voice that needs to be heard and they were appreciative that we wanted to hear and share their stories.

After lunch back at the hotel, we went to a CECAINI school that serves the children of the people who work at the dump and agricultural fields nearby.  As soon as we stepped off the bus, the kids welcomed us with big hugs and heart-warming smiles.  We brought a jump rope and a handful of balls with us to play with.  The little kids were very happy playing with the jump rope and they took turns jumping as much as they could while others played basketball, volleyball, catch, and tag with us.  We also brought face paint and the kids were very excited about letting us paint their faces. Some of us even let the kids paint our faces!  Meanwhile, we organized a group to repaint a beautiful mural on the inside wall surrounding the school.  When it was time to leave, we were sad because the kids wanted to continue playing and we wanted to stay longer.  After saying our goodbyes, we headed back to the hotel to prepare our Lesson Plans for our English Classes.

After planning tomorrow’s English lesson and enjoying dinner together, we all went into Room 15 and shared our thoughts, emotions, and discussed what we had seen and learned on this inspiring day.  Being Lider del Dia for the day taught me a lot of valuable things and having the opportunity to listen to Andy truly inspired me and made want to take action to reduce poverty in our world.  From our experiences today, I will also always remember the joy I felt when playing with the CECAINI kids.  They were so happy playing with us using simple toys.  Today has been a day full of learning and new experiences and it will always remain in my heart and remind me of the value of life.