Today we went on a quick walk-through of part of the city dump with Amira, the in-country director for the Manna Project. I did not take these pictures. I chose not to take my camera with me. But these pictures give you a glimpse into the living conditions in the dump. It was very sad to see the children and families living in this squalor. People dig through the trash that comes in to find things they can eat, use, or possibly sell.
The smell was, as you would imagine, awful. All that trash plus the magnitude of people living without any sanitation to speak of. Amira showed us the health clinic that the Manna Project runs in the dump. This clinic can provide basic health services for the people that live there. She said that the majority of issues they deal with are skin infections or rashes, as well as respiratory problems. They also deal with cuts that come from the long sticks with sharp points on the end that they use to go through the trash. They also teach english classes and run a child sponsorship program, where for $20/month, a child receives oatmeal, milk, and vitamins. The moms have to attend weekly health classes to try to change the habits at home and the kids have to come in once a month for a check up.
We also walked up to a lookout point to see the trucks coming in and people picking through the trash. We then walked around to a school that another missionary family runs. About 300 kids attend this school and receive a meal as well.
There were quite a few people who lived there that walked around with us. We had both Drew and Abbey with us. Drew got to play soccer for a bit before we left. Many of the people that I spoke with kept telling me how Abbey shouldn't be there because the air is bad for her and would make her sick. It just made me sad that they felt this way about my baby, but they LIVE there... their babies live in that every day. I'm no expert on issues surrounding poverty, or country development, or anything like that, but it just made me sad that people were so defeated to not fight for something better for their kids and their family. And maybe I'm wrong... really, one hour of being there is nothing. I have no clue what their life is like or what their hopes and dreams are. But in just that short time, I felt the dump was a place that it would be difficult to hope and dream in.
People shouldn't have to live that way. After we got home, I was talking with Drew about it and he said he didn't like living in the United States because it's the richest country in the world and "a lot of people are selfish. They should help." I told him that a lot of people are trying to help and make things better and that just by playing soccer with some of the kids today, that he helped bring some love and hope into a very dark place.