Nicaragua Day 7
Sometimes as a writer, I struggle with the question: 'Am I adequately communicating to my friends?' Often I feel I have failed. Today it is simply impossible.
We went to the dump.
Words cannot express the human degradation and humiliation that takes place there.
First, the smell.
Simply overpowering. Garbage, filth, smoke and rot assaulted us before we even arrived. It got in our nostrils and would not leave.
1,500 people live in the dump. The smell really never leaves for them.
Garbage trucks trundle in with their loads and vultures hang about, hundreds of them, waiting to pick through the next pile.
So do the people.
Standing fetid water lays in the tire tracks. Methane gas and smoke drift lazily upward.
Two year olds run around the shacks, barefoot.
Men pedal bicycle carts and horses pull wooden carts, looking like a throwback to the 1800s. They drop off trash and pick up recycling.
The shacks are cobbed together with materials gleaned from the dump. Tarp, corrugated metal sheets, and wooden poles are cobbed together to make shelter.
I can't imagine what it's like in the extreme heat, or the pouring rain.
This isn't temporary either. Power lines run to the tenements. Running water too. In the epicenter is a church, school and feeding center.
In a dump!
Eddie, our escort, takes us to a shack and shows us inside.
Midday, it is steeped in darkness. In the back 'room' lays a man. He broke his leg while foraging in February and has an external pin cast to hold the broken bones in place.
He was the breadwinner. Now his wife and kids must take up the slack to survive. He'll be like that for another year.
Is here any hope for such a depressed place as this?
We found a glimmer.
Enter Aurora. She has a place in the dump, near the entry. It's probably a good location, actually. But she struggled, just like anyone else as she picked up plastic, cleaned it, sorted it and bagged it in huge canvas bags that she sold for twenty-five cents.
Barely getting by.
Orphan Network provides microloans, along with their school and feeding program in Managua.
Aurora went to them to borrow $100, an impossible sum. She paid it back, with interest, in six months. She used the money to expand and hired someone to help her.
Because she was faithful with the one hundred, she was able to borrow two hundred. Now she buys the plastic, sorts it, bags it and sells it. She now has three employees, and owns a car.
But the most wonderful thing is that Aurora moved out of the dump, got some land and built a house.
She still works at the dump.
But it's much better.
Me? I still can't get the smell out of my nose. Perhaps it's in my mind.
It's probably better that way.
More photos on Facebook, should you need to see them.
You need to see them.
Kevin B Parsons