Juarez- Trip #5
Juarez Travel Blog› entry 5 of 5 › view all entries
January 18th, 2008 – by: maitlandtam
Dear Friends & Family,
I recently returned from my 5th service trip to Juarez, Mexico. This trip did not fail to disappoint me. The poverty shocked me more than it has in the past- I remember thinking that I seemed to be “numb” to it because I had seen it before and was perhaps getting used to it. But not this time. I’m glad it struck a chord with me. As I sit in my 1,270 square foot home and worry about some of my “problems”, it is a good reality check for me to have a recent, in-your-face taste of what life in much of the world is like.
The family we built the (450 sq. ft.) home for is, according to many of the volunteers, one of the poorest our group has ever built for so far.
There were quite a few neighborhood kids we played with.
This group of kids challenged me mentally/emotionally. Their neediness was really intense. For example, one day they were asking us to spin them around, helicopter-style. We started spinning them but they just kept asking us over and over again. Maybe this is not unusual for kids, but the physical exhaustion of the task made their insistence seem like more than the average request. They were always asking us for stuff. I felt challenged because they were starting to annoy me and I was losing my patience with them. I love kids and enjoy spending time with them, so the fact that they were testing my patience says a lot. We gave out a few books one day and so they would ask us for more books, apples, toys, or for us to play with them.
One day some of us were taking a walk and we discovered where a bunch of these kids lived or hung out.
It seems that these kids were not going to school. The father of the family we built for said that they sometimes stole things.
Some other random memories from this trip…
• The neighbors held a cockfighting competition in their yard. Luckily the roosters (?) didn’t seem too interested and nothing much happened.
• It was nice to be up on the roof. Crista graciously gave up her spot on the roof for me. I love being up there, mostly for the view I guess.
• We noticed that some of the houses have bottle caps serving the same purpose as the metal disks we used to hold the edge of the rolled roofing down (nailed into the side edge of the roof). This is one of the things I like to see when I’m in Juarez- the way people reuse things that we would simply toss in the garbage.
• One of the Mexican workers, Anair, has a wife who had just given birth before we got there. The baby was sick, though, and Anair had to go on a wild goose chase to find the medicine the doctors recommended for his baby. (The sickness had something to do with the wife being anemic, I’m told). The director of Gateway, Dan, said that if Anair had not been such a stubborn guy his baby would likely have died.
I spoke with another of the Mexican workers, Hector, quite extensively. He’s a pretty interesting guy. He lived in the United States for four years, beginning when he was about 14 years old. He was living with his father and working. At that time he wasn’t very interested in learning English, but now that he’s back in Mexico he is… He went to a technical college (university) in Juarez for four and a half years to study computer programming (or something like that). He could afford it because he had a contracted government job.
Now I am back in Santa Fe, studying Spanish with a renewed vigor. I’m also setting a goal of thinning out my collection of stuff. I would be somewhat embarrassed for someone from Colonia Anapra in Juarez to see the size of my house and the quantity of my possessions. Maybe I’ll take some of the extra stuff down to Mexico on my next trip!
Gracias, y hasta la proxima!
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