I'm really struggling right now. And it just feels so wrong to even admit that--I KNOW! I KNOW! This is not about me and my experience! It feels abundantly LAME to share how this experience is difficult for ME. Ugh. I just. Honestly, I don't know how to reconcile what my eyes saw today.
I don't know how to do this.
I've never seen anything like this. And I feel almost...angry.
I'm sounding so cliche! (Ack! Stop saying "I"! Stop saying "me"!)
Like HOW does this kind of need exist? How does a family of 10 survive here? The smell alone felt like an assault. It was all I could do to stand there and listen to Pablo talk about how he struggles to feed his 8 children by farming potatoes.
"We work like animals all day every day," he tells us. "And still it is not enough."
The babies are running straight through the filth, their hands and fingernails, hair and toenails are caked with layer upon layer of grime.
I don't know what do with that.
The flies buzz around me and I do my best not to swat them away. Eight children. A one room hut made of plank boards and corrugated tin roof. No electricity. No running water. No plumbing. The laundry hangs on a line.
The baby raises her head from her mother's breast and smiles at us, laughs even.
What is there to smile about here? And yet, they smile.
I admit it. Just standing there, looking at their living conditions--smelling it!--made me almost ill. I wanted to run. But I forced myself to stay. Even staying seems like the most paltry, helpless, ridiculous offering. What can I even DO to help these people?
I can start by not looking away.
These are the poorest of the poor in Bolivia. They live in an isolated, remote village on the edge of the mountain. They farm on the steep hillsides. They've already lost one child.
Pablo shows us some of his needlework: colorful hats and jackets. His work is painstakingly precise. He knows his pieces are valuable but leaving his family to travel the many hours to the city to sell them is a task he cannot accomplish while his family is in survival mode.
As we walk away, I start crying. I feel so stupid, honestly. I mean, the general consensus is that poverty=bad. But I have always looked away.
I have ALWAYS looked away.
I am ashamed.
When I look into the faces of these children--I see my own. Why did I look away?
Why, WHY do we look away?
I don't have the answer. Do you?
Because looking means we'll have to DO something? Because you can't look at this without feeling broken, upset....uncomfortable?
There is hope. I tell myself this over and over. We have seen this family. World Vision has seen this family and has just entered his community. Although none of Pablo's children are sponsored yet, there MIGHT be a brighter future for Pablo and his children....
IF we don't look away.