Today was a day we all knew would be hard. The theme was Poverty Day, which is not an easy topic, no matter who’s talking. We woke up on the early side to be at breakfast by 7, quickly eating so we could talk about our Question of the Day. Our QoTD: What is poverty? It was a seemingly simple question, but as our day unfolded, it proved more and more difficult to define.
Our first activity of the day was taking our bus to Las Hormiguitas to hear a speaker. Las Hormiguitas is an organization that provides education and help to people that are in need. We met volunteers and graduates who spoke and worked with us in our next activity: traveling to the dump of Matagalpa and spending the day with people who have no choice but to make that dump their home.
We headed to our bus, bringing along the mobile school that Las Hormiguitas created for people who have no access to education. We spent the rest of our morning in piles of what people in a better situation would call garbage, but what was really a home to many. We pulled up amongst piles of plastic bottles and broken glass, a plethora of vultures pecking at things most of us didn’t want to think about. Dotted around the dump were people poking through the trash trying to find anything they could use to help provide food for themselves and their families. As we set up the little cart of a school, children appeared, as well as teens and adults wanting to practice their English. Clean water was poured into bottles found around the dump. This simple act, which seemed unsanitary at first, was made understandable and distressing when we realized that these people bathe and drink from a stream filled with waste runoff from nearby farms. We passed out food and a drink to every person we could find, and as the food came out, even more people appeared. Children ran barefoot around a dump filled with glass, razors, and needles. The conditions were appalling, and there was little we could do. A Glimpser, Nina, gave the shirt off her back to a child wearing nothing but pants filled with tears. Questioning what poverty is truly defined as, we discovered how we live in a bubble where it’s normal to to spend 5 dollars a day on a cup of coffee while these people fight as hard as they can to make even 20 cordoba a day to feed themselves, which translates to roughly 70 cents in US dollars. Our bubbles have been popped.
We headed back to our hostel to decompress and discuss what we had seen and how it compared to our own lives. The prospect of eating gallo pinto with most meals didn’t seem so bad, or bad at all when we realized how little these people get to eat every day, and how they fight for the bites they take. Leaving food on our plates was impossibly difficult. Poverty seems now to be what we had seen today: the lowest of the low, living in survival mode, eating rice as a meal for every meal because it’s 4 cordoba a pound. Living in what everyone else has deemed worthless, garbage, when the human beings living there are anything but.
Despite the pain and sadness that came along with our trip to the dump, we prepped for our English classes with local students and headed out. We walked to the school and taught our respective classes our lessons for the days, bonding with the small girl who is very chispa (sassy), playing games for dulces (candy), and fending off flirtatious students wanting you to be their jana (girlfriend). The day was full of sadness and despair, but an overwhelming feeling of hope and desire to make change. Smiles and laughter ended our day, with lots of Big Love to go around and our Unity Clap shouting the word “Change”, expressing our wishes and hopes to make a difference with the small time we have.
Shoutout to my fam-damily: Mom and Dad and Briana, I love you all so much and I’m thinking of you. I totally expect you to comment on this so I can connect to you just a little bit. Also to AG: I love you lots.