Today was Poverty Day and we visited the Grenada landfill. After everyone got ready, we first traveled to a church, where we met with Mario Rincand. Mario is a Nicaraguan who moved to LA at age seven, but was in trouble several times in his life and finally deported to Nicaragua at twenty-one. Mario was in deep trouble, always drinking and doing drugs, but ended that as soon as he accepted Christianity into his life. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Mario also became the pastor’s right-hand man in the church. Listening to Mario and his life story and how hard his life had become was really inspiring. Not only did he rise up from the horrible habits that kept him down all the time, he also raised a healthy family and managed to help others as well. Listening to his story, I was amazed at how strong his mental fortitude and his faith was, strong enough to break the chains of sin.
Next, we traveled to the landfill. We were amazed that not only were people doing one of the most unpleasant jobs that anyone could think of, they have endured the flies, the odor, and the crows to scrape together a living of $1 a day for their hard work. Many of the workers there were adults and the kids, we found out, were mostly in school. The people, despite their low conditions and the impossibility of gaining an education for themselves, have pushed their children above them so that they would not end up like them. Some of the parents had their own parents bringing them to the landfill to work because that’s all they knew how to do. However, the people that we met today were fully aware of their situation, how their children can get out of the poverty, and what organizations will give them support to give their kids an opportunity the parents never had. Many of us were touched by their stories and how much they would sacrifice themselves to give their sons and daughters something better.
We helped distribute and even deliver food to the locals who are unable to come over to the line. I felt encouraged and even a little amazed that the people were fighting tooth and nail to ensure that they can fulfill their quota and ensure their survival. We also met the leaders of the community and told us that their main jobs are resolving fights, stopping gossip, and organizing aid. They had pride, they did not want arguments, they did not want trouble. They were dignified people, not savage animals. Another humanizing aspect is that they look out for each other. If someone is sick, the people would collect a bag for them so they can get the money or the medicine needed to recover. They all stuck together and that really opened my eyes.
After arriving at the hostel (and taking a shower) we had to decide on what CAP project we would like to do. After an hour and a half of intense debate, we finally struck up Adeel and consented to creating a garden for the students in a nearby school. Deciding on what we want to do for CAP did add tension to our relationships, but eventually we all realized it and agreed work more coherently. It made me proud to see everyone admitting that we all did something wrong and everyone, myself included, agreed to work together more. We then had English Tutoring prep after in preparation for tomorrow’s lesson.