For many of us glimpsers, today was a very emotional and eye-opening day that most of us would probably never forget. Our day started with a seminar about poverty not just in Nicaragua, but also the rest of the world. The question of the day was “What is poverty?” This question made us think deeper about the realities of the extreme poverty that many families are forced to live and endure. It came as a surprise for many of us that more than 50% of the families in the world live on less than $2.00 a day. Asha and Norman, the program coordinators also tried to prepare us for what we were going to experience in today’s fieldtrip, but nothing could prepare us for what we saw when we arrived at the dump.
When we arrived at the dump, the first thing that I noticed when I got of the bus was the overwhelming stench of garbage. As we walked further into the dump, I observed how the piles of garbage got bigger and the smell became even worse. There were also many different animals including some really skinny cows, some really big and repulsive vultures and an innumerable amount of flies feeding on the trash. It wasn’t until we walked toward the much larger piles of trash that we saw all the people collecting some “valuable” trash that they can sell. As the garbage trucks arrive at the dump, the people would move as fast as they can toward the spot where the truck dropped off the trash in order to collect the better trash first. There were not only adults there collecting trash but there were also many youths our age and children competing with each other so that they may gain more money to feed their families. We also got to talk to Doña Carolina, one of the worker, who informed us that they only make around 80 cordobas (less than$2) everyday. This money is only enough to buy food for her and her daughter and nothing else.
After spending our time in the dump learning about what these people don’t have that we as American youths take advantage of every day most of us, including me were emotionally drained. However, when we handed out bread and juice to those workers, the smiles on their faces were enough to lift up my spirits. I was also really happy to see that although their everyday life was spent in the garbage under the scorching sun, they can still crack jokes, play sports, laugh, and enjoy themselves. I believe that as long as they have their families and each other, life will always be worth living, even in the garbage.
Upon arriving back at the hostel, all of us took a mandatory shower to insure that none of us would get sick. Later, we had our self-reflection in which we discussed our experiences in the dumps. Many of us, especially me opened up our feelings about this situation to the group. The dump personally reminded me of my childhood in the Philippines where I would pass by a dump/squatter area everyday from my house to my school. My cousin lived right behind this dump where I would sometimes go when my parents are working. After today, I couldn’t even imagine what my cousin went through every day. I thought about how I was always one of the fortunate ones in my family.
Overall, today’s experience at the dump opened all our eyes to the realities of the world outside the world that we live in. We also learned that although in some situations it seems that it is hopeless, families and friends are sometimes all we need to make it better. For all of us glimpsers, and for me especially, I think that everything that I saw today will influence many future actions and decisions that I will make in the future.