Esperanza y Sueños
The first thing that you see when you enter the gates of La Ciudad de Esperanza is a wall containing a colorful mural. Among images of children playing and many uplifting phrases is the one “Cree en tus sueños”, or “believe in your dreams”. This week, I have reflected on an important element to having the ability to believe in your dreams: Esperanza, or hope. Because without hope, how can you dare to dream?
This community gives me immense hope in the future of the people of Cobán, specifically those who call the dump their home. Yesterday we saw the dump, and it was hard not to feel disgust and sorrow at their situation. But I quickly checked myself, and remembered what my mom has always told me: there is no shame in honest work. I wondered, do they feel shame about what they do, or are they grateful that it puts food on their table? If they do feel shame, I think it comes from the ostracism they face at the hands of their own government, rather than their occupation. Prior to La Ciudad de Esperanza and Escualita Feliz, the children of the community who lived around the dump didn’t receive education or healthcare because of their Mayan heritage, and because they were considered dirty people of the dump, not worthy of these rights. Padre Sergio and Rosario had a dream for a better life for this community, and so was born La Ciudad de la Esperanza.
There are so many people that I have come across this week who give me hope. The little children who demonstrated maturity well beyond their years when they explained medical histories for their younger siblings, or translated for older family members who only spoke the indigenous tongue, Q’eqchi’. The parents of 5 little ones who took in two more because they were abandoned, despite living in a shed smaller than my closet at home. The 23 year old young man, Darwin, who works at the Casa associated with La Ciudad de la Esperanza. One day I spoke to him in my broken Spanish, and he explained to me that he is a “papa”. I came to understand that this meant he was a father figure to 18 boys and 1 girls who live at the house because they are escaping bad home situations. The 13 year old boy who lives in Casa that taught me some Q’eqchi’ and who spoke kindly about his family despite what horrors he might have faced growing up. Bryan from Casa who wants to be an astronaut for NASA and loves astronomy. The mother of three young children who recently turned 20 years old. If my sister was still with us today, she would be 20. She was a young, carefree college student and I can’t even imagine her having one child, let alone three little ones to take care of. This mom’s name is Mariella, and her babies have healthy weights for their age, and have healthy little white smiles because of her meticulous, loving care. Despite difficult circumstances, all of these people dared to hope, dared to DREAM of better circumstances for them and the ones they love.
Lastly, I have hope in the team that came down here with me. In the medical staff that dedicate their time to helping these communities and providing this opportunity to change the perspective of future health care professionals. In the students from Regis University. Bearing witness to the growth of all of the students has been inspirational. They give me hope that there are 12 more people in this world who will fight for the poor and marginalized in the world around us, and change the world one life at a time.
Katie Lewis- Trip Coordinator