$13 can feed a child in Nicaragua for a MONTH. Help me raise $1300 by simply losing my shoes for a week.
The "third world" label gets thrown around a lot in the blissful isolation of our first world empire. Polluted water, political instability, hot weather - these things are said to define the third world. But until you experience the raging poverty of the villages, before you interact with the hollow happiness of the people, can you actually understand the third world. It is not a country, it is not a region, it is not a culture; it is a person. It has a heart and a brain; most likely, it has children. What it doesn't have is money, or resources, or the necessities you and I take for granted daily. So why talk about it?
Because the third world has something profound, something that transcends all logic: the third world has hope. They have passion to exist, excitement to live. Contrary to what makes sense, against the greatest adversity, the kids I have met in Nicaragua have shown me the most honest, admirable courage that I never would have imagined had I not experienced it myself. Their intensity to be relevant to something, to be loved by anyone, is something only memory can explain- no words, no pictures. Just memories.
I met Jose, pictured above, during my second trip to Nicaragua. He was a preschooler in the school at La Chureca, the Managuan city dump. Yes, the school and village are located in the garbage dump for the nation's capital.
Have you pictured what that looks like? What that might be like to live in, day after day? Good. Let's keep going.
He ran straight to me and clung to my leg immediately after the bell rang and the gates of his classroom opened. He was so short that I couldn't even see him, not to mention the mob of ten other kids that were trying to bring me down so they didn't have to go back to class. I threw him up on my shoulders, as is customary, and we went around playing for a bit before we eventually sat down and read for 30 minutes. He and I were lost in our moment, lost in the connection we developed from me wanting him to be loved and he wanting nothing more than to be loved. Then the 30 minutes were up, and I had to go. Jose had been asking the entire time (in Spanish of course) if I had to leave, when I was leaving, but it wasn't until I answered him in the affirmative that he reacted. He ran away from me. He refused to make eye contact with me. He hid in a corner and stared at the floor, refusing to look me in the eyes. I started to choke up, and a few tears came to my eyes. "Jose," I said through a translator, "I'm going to come back as soon as I can, muy pronto, but please, be strong for me. I promise I'll see you soon." Still, he didn't, he wouldn't, look up. His teacher made him say bye to me, made him hug me, and I had to go. It may be the saddest I have ever been in my life.
My sadness has nothing to do with the trip, or even with the moral of this story, however. What is important is that these kids are so open to love, so responsive to affection, that even the slightest demonstration of love can change their lives. That is why I go on this trip. What I do, and what we do, matters. It changes lives. So can your donation.
I'm not asking you to do much. I only ask your support as I sympathize with the children I have worked relentlessly to love for the last two spring breaks. But it can't end there. This time, I'm going barefoot for a week to endure what they have in a lifetime, and not even then have I scratched the surface of what these kids must manage. $13 will feed one of these kids for a month. How much did your last meal cost?
Thank you, so much. What your feeling now? It's what changing lives feels like.