I think it’s safe to say that Thursday was a very difficult and very bizarre day… even for me, and that’s saying something! This story is going to be in parts… it’s too much for one whole entry, but it’s worth it, I promise you.
*Disclaimer, this is not pleasant in any way.
After our deliscious breakfast prepared by Yesenia, Amy and I went to visit the Granada Street Kids project because she has some product there that she has to check, and I wanted to explore it as a potential place for students to stay. (some pics below). The facility and project are amazing, and what it has been able to accomplish in the year and a half that it has been up and running is tremendous. After we toured the place, checked amy’s product (another lesson of Fair Trade on the ground for another day…) the director of the facility, Juan carlos offered to take us to some of the barrios that the boys are from.
As i showed in my previous post, we drove toward the beautiful lake Granada, we turned left and found ourselves in abject poverty, there is no other way to describe it. The commercials you see asking you to adopt a child halfway across the globe, documentaries about hunger, studies about lack of access to water pale in comparison. Nothing can demonstrate the reality that exists before you.
As we drive up, kids recognize the car as being from Granada Street Kids and they flock us. One little boy pops his head into the window and with a smile says “please, please please can I come?!” The little boy is 9 and the project can only accommodate those 14 and above. Amy points out that you can see he gets beaten. There are fresh cuts and scars on his face. So Juan Carlos talks to him a while, explains this, and then chats with one another boy (from the project) who had to come home and care for his sick mother.
While all of this is going on, Juan Carlos is pointing out certain homes that he knows belong to the boys in the project. As he is telling us their stories of family dysfunction (alcoholic and abusive parents, no parents, no food, no water, drug experimentation…etc the list goes on) a little boy, no more than 8 comes up to my window, he’s carrying his sister.
This is Charlie and Lupe. When I asked how old Lupe is, Charlie said she is a year old. The only thing that I could think about was a beautiful little 8mo. old girl I know who is happy and chubby with parents, family, and friends to care for her. Lupe, right now has her brother, and no matter how much I tried, he affect remained the same.
Almost as soon as we left the barrio, the roads went right from dirt to glorious brick, as if what was just behind us, didn’t exist to the people in that current neighborhood. And with the conclusion of that gut-wrenching experience…. we still had work to do, and I then understood why Yesenia refused to come with us….
As Amy and I were trying to process all of this, we wondered, “what makes these barrios different from the barrios in Tipitapa?” The only thing we could come up with is this idea of a supportive community. In Tipitapa Gustavo simply had dirt floors, there was garbage everywhere, and access to water severely lacked. But what Gustavo and his children have, that the people in these barrios don’t have is a supportive community. In Tipitapa, you could see that the neighbors cared for each other and looked after one another. Families did the same. in barrio Santa Rosa and Esperanza (means Hope- that’s a joke if i ever heard one), families are abusive, parents have mental disabilities, and children are left to fend for themselves. That’s what makes this so hard to stomach, so difficult to process….and that’s what makes what happened in the afternoon and evening that much stranger….