I wrote this nearly two years ago upon returning from a ten day community service learning trip, Alternative Spring Break, organized by the Student Experience Office at Carleton University.
In the squatter village of La Estación, 4,000 to 5,000 families live on land they do not own in houses built from scraps deemed useless by others and abandoned. They share a hose between several houses and are only able to use it once every few days. They do not pay for electricity, not because the government cares about how they refrigerate their food or light their homes, but because the government wants these families to have access to the heavily censored television which sings the praises of the current leadership that taxes the middle class the most and does not provide clean drinking water, health care or education, but subsidizes sugar so Coca-Cola in Mexico has higher sugar content than anywhere else and is cheaper than water, leading to a twin obesity and diabetes epidemic.
Men go to work, unsure how much they will make and if it will feed their families, permit health care, pay school fees.
Women have one child after another in hopes that they will be able to contribute economically by selling, by begging.
Mothers and fathers refuse to developmental delays in their children because they are powerless to help.
Children play with broken glass, and climb ladders in electrical towers.
Churches sometimes on the political left, not the right.
Communities prioritize what homes will get front doors that close, cement floors, indoor plumbing and working toilets.
The world, mostly oblivious, still turns; free trade agreements continue; income inequality grows.
27 people spend two and a half days with shovels and work gloves alongside locals working without shoes….
Seeing joy first and bare feet second;
Separating equality, rights and justice from cultural norms;
Wondering how much it will change you, how much one person on the other side of the continent can do;
Hoping effort is enough, knowing it isn’t, wondering what is.
An action plan – more, more, more: community service, learning, donations, awareness, discussions, another trip, another family, another floor.
Beginning to believe that ignorance is bliss, that knowing makes privilege harder. That doing “what you can, when you can” isn’t enough to change the world forever.
Wondering if finding happiness in the moment is merely a coping mechanism, a justification, an excuse; a way of escaping the hard questions and the truth about how much more I could be doing.
Leaving with more questions than answers, with more doubts about what can be done, with an ocean of tears not cried.
The future is today; action is words, relationships, essays and classes and discussions chosen and ignored. In stop/start showers, in blogs, in not giving business to the richest of the rich. In choosing to believe a better world is possible, that you are not the only dreamer, and doing what you can to make dreams come true.