Yesterday after Spanish class, Kayleigh, our housemates (Nikki from Wisconsin and Emily from Australia), and I went with Manolo, Emily’s friend from the church we went to twice now, to the dumpster. We first bought warm children’s clothing (it’s “winter” [or the rainy season] here for those of you unaware) at the market right next door and then brought the clothes to the dump. About 30 people were there scavenging from things they could recycle and sell. When they saw us with clothing they all ran towards us. Tall older men even tried to grab the clothing despite the fact that the clothing would not fit them at all. It was a bit overwhelming, but there were less people than I was expecting, so it wasn’t too overwhelming. We handed out the 10 items of clothing we had to the kids that they would fit. We then took the children we had not given anything to and their mothers to the market to pick out warm clothes. It felt very odd categorizing the young children as children and their mothers (who were younger than me) as adults. There was one 14 year old mother with her baby (her 16 year old husband appeared to be on drugs). The family I took around the market for clothing consisted of an 18 year old mother with a 4 year old daughter and her 14 year old brother. They wanted the first thing that they saw, it took us a while to find clothing that actually fit well (aka big enough for the children to grow a bit). We then all (including 9 women and children from the dumpster) went to the shoe store in the market to buy shoes. We got shoes for all of them for about $80. We also gave them bread and bananas and brought back food to the dump for everyone else. They were all really appreciative and the girls all gave us about 5 hugs each (so I got about 20 hugs) when we left. We really wanted to take the 2 babies home to bathe them.
I was happy to give them warm clothing and shoes, but I feel more pessimistic right now. I feel like we only helped those few individuals for a millisecond. I wish there was some sort of program in place to really get them on their feet and keep them there. It’s daunting to see how much help is actually needed.