Sara LoTemplio's Mission of Hope Blog
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Today was a difficult day. I, along with 4 other students, and some adults went to La Chureca to do a Pediatric Clinic. La Chureca, is also known as the Managua City Dump.
Like all things beautiful or terrible in the world, in this case terrible, it is not a place that can adequately be described in words. The closest it gets is a sign spray painted on the entrance of the dump that reads "Welcome to Hell."
This place can not be contained in a photo either, because photos do not bring with them a heavy, thick, choking air reeking with the smell of chemicals and burning trash. Photos don't bring with them the dust whipping around and nearly blinding you, or the garbage crunching under your feet.
La Chureca is a place where wild animals and people fight over pieces of trash, where people pick through garbage to try and salvage anything useful to get by. Worst of all, La Chureca is a place where people live.
We entered the dump, and I felt a growing feeling of hopelessness welling inside of me. I couldn't think, I couldn't cry, I was paralyzed. I didn't believe it was real.
We opened our clinic, all of us having a hard time breathing, and I hoped I could do something, somehow to help someone. I only realized even more how hopeless I was feeling when Hillary gave everyone a soap bar, and they didn't even know what it was. We sat dumbstruck as a Nicaraguan doctor demonstrated for all the people there simply how to wash your hands. Of the things we do every day, they have no concept. They have no way to escape the places they live in, and the air that is slowly killing them. They have nothing.
I was sitting and wondering how things could ever change, when a little boy came up to me and smiled, pointing at the bubbles I had zipped in my fanny pack. I smiled back at him and blew him bubbles, and it was as if nothing could ever be wrong with his life. He was so happy. He and all the other children were beautiful.
In a strange way, I couldn't help but to feel happy for him, and I shared in his joy. This is an emotion I still can't really understand, after seeing what his life was like. I never expected when I came here, by the way, to have so many emotions I didn't understand.
After some thought, I believe this happiness might just be a little bit of hope. It's a testament that these people are so naturally optimistic and joy filled, and this makes them deserve better even more. They seem to hope, or at least know in their hearts, that tomorrow might be a better day.
I want to make it a better day for them, but I can't do it alone. My heart is broken, and I am overwhelmed at the massive amount of work and learning that needs to happen to make it better. That's another thing I learned today. I learned how hard it is sometimes to help. I always thought it would be simple. Feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, etc. I now realize how complex it is to fix some things, and how not everything comes with a manual.
There are so many delicate balances between helping and exploiting, making lives better and making them what we think is better, helping for the moment and helping long term. It takes much more time, and much more effort than a few hours during the week of February, by the 40 or so Missioners of Hope. We all must stand as one.
I have seen the people and I know them, and I know that they are the same as you and me. We are all people, and we all share the same home on planet Earth. So I am asking you today, to please think of your fellow human family in Nicaragua. Please attempt to share the burden to make theirs lighter.
Please help the Mission of Hope to help them in any way you can. You can help more than you think. Sister Debbie told me today, "You've seen what you've seen and you know now. When you return home you can either do something about it or become just another tourist." I intend to do something about it, and I have HOPE that I will not be alone.