Today a small group of us had the pleasure of going to the dump to feed the people who spend their days working tirelessly in the midst of other people’s garbage in an effort to earn a feeble wage for their efforts. It is one of those experiences that you can never grow numb to, it will never become just something you do while you are in Honduras, or at least it shouldn’t. Driving into the dump you immediately feel dirty, you smell the stench of rotten food and things thrown away in the thousands of homes throughout Tegucigalpa, things that aren’t meant to be seen again, let alone dug through with human hands. And yet that is exactly what hundreds of people spend their days doing; searching, sifting, scavenging through trash in order to exhume plastic, cardboard, glass, whatever it is that they are responsible for collecting.
However, today at the dump was even more challenging for me personally. As we stood in the back of a truck and scooped out bowl after bowl of rice, beans and tortillas, we were enveloped in smoke. Every so often they burn the trash at the dump to make room for more waste. Today was a burning day. And there was no escape from the smoke. It burned our eyes, our throats and it covered us in a layer of stench and dirt that was recognizable from a distance. Our group spent 30 minutes at the dump today. 30 minutes. And for a lot of us the first things we talked about as soon as we drove away were the showers we couldn’t wait to take, or the cold water that was going to taste so refreshing. These aren’t luxuries that many of those workers were going to receive at the end of their long work day, a work day lasting far longer than the 30 minutes our group spent in the dump feeding. All day the men, women and children working there would be breathing in that smoke, smelling that stench and feeling that intense burning in their eyes and throats that I could barely stand for the 30 minutes I was there to serve them lunch.
Today being in the dump, at least for me, felt a little more real. Real in the sense that I endured their elements a little bit more. Real in the sense that I know how my body responded in that environment after only a few minutes. And real in the sense that I felt so appreciative driving away from the dump yesterday; for the opportunity to have gone and shared cold, clean water with those people and warm, nourishing food. In that moment it was also real to me how important it is to enter into to those places less appealing, less clean, and certainly less enjoyable because it is in those places that God has come looking for me time and time again.
The rest of us headed to Hospital Escuela. It is the "free hospital" in the city. If you have ever been to this hospital you know all too well how true the statement "you get what you pay for" can be. There is no such thing as a private room there. Instead most rooms have 10-12 beds lining the walls; filled with sick kids. The hospital often times is forced to reuse needles, tape, catheters, and other medical supplies because they don't have enough. I suppose when you are in pain and needing help you would choose the reused needle over nothing....but still it just makes my heart hurt. How spoiled are we in the states?? We take for granted the fact that we can walk into a hospital and receive good, sanitary, life saving medical treatment.
Our group split into two smaller groups at the hospital and headed to separate floors, armed with big bags of toys. My group had pediatric surgery and hydrocephaly floors. At each room we went to we handed out stuffed animals and toy cars. We played with kids, held hands with kids receiving treatment, talked with them, and formed bonds that surely wound their way into deepest parts of our heart.
After the hospital we headed to the airport where 12 more members of our team flew out. It is hard to believe that our time here is already over. My heart aches at the thought of going home already. I love this place and these people with everything in me.
Please keep praying over this place and the ministries here. I'll continue to put up a couple more blogs of pictures and stories even after I return home so keep checking the blog.