In March 2011, I found myself in the middle of the Canyon in Tijuana, Mexico. I saw people- including children- who were living literally in the midst of an old garbage dump. I spent more money on going out with friends one night than they would in a week. Most of the families couldn’t afford to send their children to school. If they could, the children probably wouldn’t be able to finish. My time spent there opened my eyes to what was all around me. This wasn’t in Africa or South America or some other place overseas. This was happening on my continent, a simple three hour flight away. This was close enough to my back yard.
Dave is a phenomenal guy. He lives in Tijuana and is a lifeline that connects the people of the Canyon and the people who have visited. His blog keeps us all connected between trips. This post was a little more bitter than sweet to read.
On my first trip, I met Ariana. She had mint chocolate chip colored paint on her nose and her hair was cut short(I found out later it was because she had lice). She laughed and smiled the entire time. The notebook pages we drew on are upstairs in a box of memories from my trips. She has an adorable brother named Armando. One night at the church, Armando and I played for hours. Constant smiles and laughs, until the tears of saying goodbye, of course.
They live in one of the poorest areas of their community. Their father has been in and out of jail, and both he and their mother do drugs. This isn’t an ideal situation for any child. Even if their parents could afford their school fees, supplies, and uniforms, there’s no way they could really concentrate and learn. They leave near a church that provides breakfast for the local children so they have at least one real meal every day. It’s not an understatement to say that church is the lifeline for those people.
Why am I telling you this? Because knowledge is powerful. It’s also scary. It’s permanent. Once you know something, you can’t take it back. You can pretend all you want, but the knowledge is there. You can never “un-know” something. Since that first trip in 2011, I’ve been responsible for what I know. Now, you’re responsible, too. You can’t pretend they don’t exist.
We can both do our part to help. There’s more than just Ariana and Armando. These children could have the chance for an education, and you can be a part of bringing that to them. What are you going to do?