We know everything about the poor: what they don’t work at, what they don’t eat, what they don’t weigh, how much they don’t measure, what they don’t have, what they don’t think, what they don’t vote for, what they don’t believe…
The only thing we need to know is why the poor are poor…Might it be because their nakedness clothes us and their hunger feeds us?...
- Children of the Days
I thought of these lines by the great Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano quite often these past few weeks. They came to mind during two different scenarios.
|It is such an honor to travel this sacred mountain to be with friends|
Scenario One: Those who read my blogs know that my friend Edgar Peralta Silva broke his back a month ago while we were on a trip to an impoverished mountain village to share gifts with the children on the Day of the Child. I have visited Edgar several times in Mexico City, and I have been present while the family talk about what they can offer him and what they can’t offer him, what they can do and what they can’t do in terms of seeking rehabilitation.
Edgar is still paralyzed from the waist down,
and he still can’t sit up. His family try to roll him over once in a while and
to help him to exercise as much as possible. But he still gets sores on his
back, and the skin on his feet and legs gets very dry. The doctors recommend a
special cream for Edgar, but the small tube of cream costs 283 pesos: the equivalent of 21
Canadian dollars. The minimum wage in Mexico is 73.04 pesos a day: about 5.40
Canadian dollars a day. Edgar’s
family want to offer him the best, but like all poor families, they have to
consider priorities and real needs. Mission Mexico helps in some ways, but the family
still faces incredible challenges.
|Edgar's days are long...but he (usually) doesn't lose hope|
|Edgar continues his journey toward the new life that awaits him|
Scenario Two: And much of my time was spent with Mexican young people who are finishing high school and trying to get into universities or vocational schools to continue their education. It is so wonderful when a family can opt to allow their child to continue studying, but there are too many cases where I have seen young people cry simply because the family doesn’t have the resources to cover expenses. Mission Mexico assists a few dozen students through a scholarship program, but the needs always outnumber the resources available.
|Prayers for future dreams are a constant part of the lives of the poor|
And the sacrifices that many young people make in order to study are often huge: one meal a day; walking instead of taking a bus; not visiting family for six months; borrowing books rather than buying them; looking for any kind of work possible on evenings or weekends; walking for long distances to a store that sells a notebook for a peso less than a nearby store. This is “normal” for the poor.
|Future students at university? Not likely, unfortunately|
The struggles won't end anytime soon. There are sad times, but there are also happy times. The joy experienced by young people who manage to go on to higher education is immeasurable. And families appreciate even the effort to try to help them offer to their children a dream for the future. This is an incredible place to be, and I am so grateful to Mission Mexico and its supporters for allowing me this blessing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
|Not the fastest taxi around, but it can beat walking|