I asked myself that question about 100 times today. Can what we are seeing today be real?! It was almost too hideous to be real. First the bright spots! I met a Mom with a special needs child (cerebral palsy) in the slums near the river today. Children’s International picks them up once a week and gets him therapy. His name is Angel and today he was able to sit up when we visited his family. We also saw a water project sponsored by CI in the center of the slum or as they call it “barrio”. This project is building a cement wall to protect the 30,000 people who live there from the massive flooding that happens there every year during hurricane season. It is also cleaning up the trash in the water and built a brick area for the children to play. While we were there we met a dozen kids outside playing together. One had a stick with a plastic bottle on the end. He used it like a hockey stick. CI is truly the hands and feet of God in this slum. They explained that there are no other agencies working in this slum right now. Not one. It is unimaginable that this horrific area has one non profit working here. It’s like these 30,000 people have been totally forgotten.
We made a little friend today. The little dude with the stick and bottle. Beyond cute – big smile – probably 4 years old. We taught him to blow kisses when we left. He stood by our bus blowing kisses. Lots of kids are sick right now with the disease going around- Mosquitos were everywhere in this community today. The area is built right up on the banks of three rivers. The rate of people getting sick here is close to 100%.
The heat today got us -hot sun and super high humidity … And not an ounce of cool air anywhere. Our travel partners are so great to be with this week. Fun, smart, caring people – with great senses of humor. Lots of funny memories being made in this journey. The humor and our travel partners are making the things we are experiencing bearable. Meeting the children who are sponsored by loving people really has caused us to realize the importance of our work as a board. There are 1,200 children in the barrio we were in today who are sponsored CI children. They are learning to read, learning to speak English, seeing doctors and dentists and getting their basic needs met. These 1,200 hundred kids are being given hope by someone, someplace with a huge heart. They probably have no clue how much their $25 a month means to that child living in this hell hole. We may have seen hell on earth today. Except the kids and the people were warm, friendly, gracious and the kids were flat our adorable!
Tonight, we are surprising an older sponsor child with a scholarship to college. His Mom is coming with him but they have no idea what is happening. Bringing tissues!