It is already day 9 , and I cannot believe how fast time has passed us by. Today was full of “thorns” and “roses,” or in other words we had a beautiful garden. At Global Glimpse we express our joys/happy moments as a “rose” and our difficulties/challenges as “thorns” in our nightly meetings every night.
We all knew we had a mentally challenging day ahead of us, just from the title. The overall topic was “Deconstructing Poverty,” and as such we visited an organization named, NutreHogar. NutreHogar is a Catholic charity founded in 1988 that aims to lessen and prevent early childhood malnutrition throughout Panama’s indigenous populations. NutreHogar is located in Las Tablas and has about 10 workers/staff & volunteer members who are dedicated to improving the health of young children.
When we walked in we felt a huge weight on our shoulders just by seeing the children from afar. Before today and even before this trip, I had very little knowledge about malnutrition, let alone having witnessed it’s effects firsthand. Out of all the days we have been in Panama, despite the brutal humidity and long days, I , along with other glimpsers, found today to be the hardest and most emotional day of them all. When we first arrived, we had a small introduction by Yana one of the volunteers from Germany, when a small child was heard coughing in another room. She is in her gap year and returns to Germany on Monday. It was in that exact moment that we all realized how real the issue of poverty and malnutrition is and continues to be.
Walking around the building and learning more about the conditions that these 0-5 year olds are forced to face was definitely a heartbreaking experience for me and others. Getting to know more about the program made it even harder. We found out that these kids got the food they needed to survive, but definitely didn’t get the affection they needed. Two nannies for 16 0-5 year olds is the staffing. I don’t think I have ever felt so emotional in such a short amount of time.
We separated into 2 groups because there were only 7 kids in the facility, 4 were in isolation with colds and 5 were in the hospital. Luckily, we were able to play with the children for a little, and I think that in a way everyone’s spirits were lifted up because of the kids’ smiles and giggles. Many of the children were not used to play, affection, and attention and it was noticeable how they needed more. At first, the children were very skeptical about interacting with us, because they were mostly likely not used to having so many visitors at once, but once they began to open up a little more, it was all fun and laughter. Kids were playing with toys, glimpsers, were helping them eat their lunches and the other group was cleaning the building and grounds.
Our GGL’s, Liza and Shiloh were “chasing’ them around the room. It was truly a moment of joy and play that we all will cherish. While I enjoyed playing and caring for them I soon realized how important it was and how much it meant for them. Many of them were not used to this kind of affection and attention and it was noticeable how they needed more.
Leaving the kids was the hardest part and definitely tough on most of us, because we had become so attached. It made a huge impact on every Glimpser, leader, and project coordinator and left us wondering what more we could do. It left us all with a feeling of duty to spread awareness and take action about the way indigenous peoples are being treated here and in the United States.
Having gone through today, it was such an emotional roller coaster, but I learned so much about the effects of poverty and how the indigenous community is impacted. My sister told me before I left, “Let the world change you, so you can change the world.” – by Ernesto “Che” Gueverra.
After experiencing this not only do I appreciate the food I have on my table, but also all the love and care I have received growing up.