Not flesh of my flesh
nor bone of my bone
but still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute
you didn't grow under my heart
but in it!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

How Can We Make a Difference

During our visits to Guatemala we witness so much poverty and have seen many sad sights - homeless adults, children living in the streets with their moms, children begging for money, handicapped people walking on their arms, dilapidated homes, among many other sad sights. These are some of the same sights that I have witnessed while on vacation visiting other poor countries, like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Mexico. I am impacted by these sad sights and feel so fortunate to have been born and raised in the United States in an environment where all of my needs were amply provided for. Seeing these sights makes me feel so spoiled and selfish, but for this reason I always try to do whatever small things I can to try to help.

During my last visit to Guatemala, though, I saw a little boy and another sibling group whose faces have stuck in my head. In particular, there was a little girl named Anna whose eyes tugged at my heart and I cannot get the vision of her sad eyes looking at me out of my head.

The first little boy we saw was while driving home from dinner one evening. It was probably around 9:00 PM; it was dark outside. He looked around ten years old. His face was painted like a clown, I believe he was juggling, and he was begging for money from passing by cars. We stopped so that my mother and I could give him money. I felt so sad that this little boy was out so late, by himself, in a dangerous city and having to beg for money probably so he and his family could eat. He probably did not go to school. What could I do for him at that moment in time beside give him money? I still can't answer that question, but there has to be more that I could have done.

The next experience was while mom, Gabriella, and I walked across the street from the hotel with another adoptive mother and her little boy. We went to some shops to shop for souvenirs and then we went to Domino's Pizza for lunch. The Domino's Pizza had some tables set up outside on the sidewalk which is where we sat to eat. While we were eating we saw a teenaged girl with her two little siblings - a little boy named Jose, probably around 9 years old and a little girl named Anna, probably around 7 years old. They were walking the streets selling "dulces" or sweets, homemade traditional Guatemalan candies. I communicated with them with the little Spanish that I know. They lived in zone 5 in the city. Just to give you an idea, the Westin Hotel where we stay is in zone 10. Zone 10 is known to be the safest zone in the city. They lived at home with eleven siblings. I asked if they went to school and they said no. School in Guatemala is free, but families are required to pay a registration fee, buy a school uniform, books, backpack, and shoes. There are many children in Guatemala who would like to attend school but cannot afford to attend. Jose and Anna needed about 1000 Quetzals each or approximately $135 to attend, but could not afford it. My immediate thought was to give Jose and Anna the money they needed for school right then, but I had no way of knowing how the money would truly be spent. I also considered bringing them to the grocery store to purchase groceries for them, but the logistics of doing so seemed too risky with Gabriella. We purchased them a pizza and water and gave them money. That was all that we could do to help them and we felt so bad. Anna's eyes tugged at my heart. I kept thinking how I wished I could adopt her as well.

I am not quite sure why these particular children have stuck in my head when I have already seen many others in the same types of situations. I can still picture Anna's eyes and keep wondering what more I could have done to help. If you are reading this blog, you are probably like me. We are sitting in a comfortable chair, behind a not-so-cheap computer, with a full belly and a nice roof over our heads. We have to remember to be thankful for our at-time-backwards-but-for-the-most-part-awesome country that we live in. We have to remember to be thankful for our fortunate lives that God has blessed us with. And, we have to try to make a difference and help those less fortunate in whatever ways we can.

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