Saturday, July 24, 2010

To The Dump

Day Seven in Guatemala…It Was Perfect! Day seven started early…up at 6am and on the road by 7am. What day in Guatemala isn’t a long day? You would think we would be tired by no, but the adrenaline seems to kick in this whole week. The early start had us heading into Guatemala City and to the City Dump. This is the part of the trip that is the most memorable for many. To see the poverty and how people work and live in such conditions to survive is surreal. The clinic is set up in a house right at the entrance to the Dump. A convenient location to serve the most needed patients. The lady who lives there is a good friend of Tom’s and is generous and is always willing to open her home to us. Tom knows a lot of people at the dump. One of the first places he ministered to kids was at the dump. He lived in a yellow house right at the entrance to the dump. The first view you get when you make the turn down the road to the dump really hits you hard. The amount of trash is amazing to see, but it is also interesting to see organization in the midst of chaos. Most of the people who live at the dump are there to sort and collect metals, plastics, cardboard and other materials to sell to middlemen who then turn around and sell it to businesses who need the materials. It is the Guatemalans response to “Going Green”. It is a great system of recycling. The only problem is that the people who do all the work to collect rarely get paid what they deserve. It keeps them in this place of poverty that is so hard to get out of. Sometimes it is not the sights that really hit you hard but the smells as well. Luckily, this year, both the ash collected from Picaya erupting (black snow as Tom puts it) and the cooler days have helped keep the smell down. In previous years the heat and the amount of exposed trash has really created one huge stench. It was hard to keep the windows open even if it meant better air circulation. Yesterday’s clinic went so smooth we knew it would be hard to compare to today, mostly because we had so much available space at the mission house that we were spoiled. Today was a different story. Being in person’s house offers only limited space. The most cramped was the pharmacy with all the medicines packed in suitcases sprawled out across a bedroom floor, second would be the blood pressure station which had some feeling claustrophobic. But we pressed on and we were able to see many patients in a short time. It was sad to see so many people in need of so much care. There was one ten year old girl who was pretty much raising her 3 siblings while her mom worked in the dump collecting trash. She has had to grow up and really take charge of raising them in such a harsh environment. One special moment was seeing Charlie hold one of the youngest of the siblings in his arms while she waited at the pharmacy. We thought he would never give her back. We had an opportunity after our lunch break to go inside the dump to see how the people survived inside, and to see the people working and sorting the trash. As we walked down the street it was odd to see a small village inside the dump. Tom said he could come back in a few months and the inside of the dump would look completely different. They are always changing and moving and relocating things inside the dump. A place that was so open and vast a year ago now had small shacks and even “Tiendas” (little shops) as a real functioning society. Right down the center of the paths between the shacks was a drainage (sewage) ditch. You really had to watch where you stepped. After the tour were returned to the house to see several dozen more patience before we packed up to go to the mission house. The night ended with devotion and a huge “Kemps” tournament. Oh to sleep again. Don’t worry friends at home…there are only a few more posts (days) left before we head home to see you all. We have been here for almost a week but it seems to have gone too quickly. It feels like we just got here despite all the long days and hard work. We do miss you all and we can’t wait to see you all real soon! In HIS service, The Guatemala Mission Team!
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