It’s been a month and I’m still trying to grasp the poverty that I have seen.
It is one thing to watch The Discovery Channel and see shows on poverty. It takes your breath away as you watch people care for their young in horrific living conditions on that channel. But nothing will prepare your heart for staring down that depth of poverty in person.
There are no words.
Although I stood among varying degrees of poverty on my trip to Guatemala, poverty that I can not even put in to words, I was amazed by the work ethic of the people. I was surprised.
Men, women, and children were busy from sun up to sun down working to earn enough to care for their family for a day. They weren’t just standing around. They weren’t begging. They were working!
75 percent of Guatemala live below poverty, which means they do not make enough to even buy a basket of good or services for their family. 58 percent live in extreme poverty, which means they do not even have enough to purchase a basket of food. (source: worldbank)
Maybe I’m going crazy.
While my mind tries to grasp this level of need, it’s hard for me to comprehend the way of thinking in this country. I look around and remember Guatemala. My thoughts collide and many days I want to scream, “Are you kidding me”, in response to things I hear.
When someone in this city or country complains “there are no good jobs.”
When I cross paths with someone sitting on the side of the road and they say, “Please help, my government check is late.”
When I visit with the homeless and they say, “I got a cell phone from the government, but I lost it.”
Yes, it makes me want to scream. Oh, I know I can’t because they haven’t seen what I’ve seen. And because, that’s how we do it in this country. Right?
We feel we are above the minimal jobs, so we wait for something better. We know we have a government that will help us back on our feet or care for us all together. Or maybe better yet, may I dare say a government that spoils us with cell phones.
But in Guatemala there is no government pay, food stamps, or phones. There is nothing, but hard working people trying to provide for their family. They work hard 12-16 hours a day in a dump in hopes of having the equivalent of 2-5 USD to provide for their families. No job seems beneath them.
When two worlds collide.
It’s messy wading through the collision of these two worlds.
It has been a struggle for me. I work with the abused, abandoned, and homeless almost daily and I want to tell them “You have no idea how blessed you are. I get that you’re down and hurting, but you aren’t digging through trash 12 hours a day to survive. And even if you are, the trash here is regulated by our government – not so in Guatemala.”
The fact that we were blessed by the Creator of All to be born in the USA is a miracle in and of itself.
Go and see.
Don’t take it lightly. If you do, hop on a plane to Guatemala City and see. (sign up for updates here because a trip back to Guatemala is on the horizon)
Will you come?
See the poverty.
See what hard work is.
See the need.
See how blessed you are.
Until you see, I promise I won’t scream.
What have you seen that makes you want to scream? What injustices are you aware of?