Quarantine probably isn’t the same for the people of El Rosario as it is for you. There’s no high-speed internet. Actually, there’s almost no internet at all. No computers. No Amazon. No Netflix. No big screen tv’s.
Most homes are 300-400 square feet for families of 5+. Some families have electricity, but it’s generally reserved for work at night.
As the lockdown trudges on, COVID-19 takes a tighter grasp of this tiny country. Cases are rising and death is following.
In Guatemala, white flags identify families who need food. People fly them over their doors in hopes of a little relief. They also stand roadside, mostly women and the elderly, but you’ll often see an entire family standing watch beneath the flag. THEIR DESPERATION IS PALPABLE.
Whenever I go off campus, I put together 5 bags of food to hand out along the way. I don’t come back until they’re gone.
The money you send gives them more than food. It gives them hope. I know that sounds dramatic, but I assure you, it’s not. You’re letting them know, “You’re not alone”, “I care about you”, “God cares about you”.
My biggest frustration with your donation IS THAT YOU CAN’T DELIVER FOOD WITH ME. It’s frustrating that you can’t look into their eyes. It’s frustrating that you can’t see their relief. I’m truly sorry for that.
A recent article in La Prensa Libre, The Guatemalan Free Press, said “tourism is closed until the second quarter of 2021”, April at the earliest. There hasn’t been an official announcement, but my interpretation is that the airport won’t be open to foreigners. It may mean the airport is shut down completely. I’m not sure. The President spoke at a recent press conference and said that if the number of new cases daily reaches 400, he’ll shut the country down for 15 days. All business. Everything.
I can assure you, there will be greater need as the months roll by.
As extreme as that is, I have to remember, this country is FRAGILE. There’s very little medical infrastructure. I also have to remember, this isn’t my home country. I’m still a visitor. It would be prideful to criticize their decisions. That’s not why we’re here anyway. We’re here to serve. To love. To spread the Gospel.
Last Thursday I drove to the Chimaltenango market to buy supplies for this week’s food deliveries. The market is HUGE, as in, miles long.
As the market was closing and the sun was fading, just outside the market, there was a designated area for the days trash. I first noticed about 15 dogs foraging through the pile. I could see old fruits and vegetables, coconut husks, empty boxes and full trash bags.
And then, I lost my breath.
There were people competing with the dogs for the best scraps. They were taking anything that was remotely valuable or edible. One man held a bag that had a few tostada shells in it. He lifted it up to his nose, and then put it in his backpack.
I parked my truck and asked if they wanted a bag of food. I know. Stupid question.
In unison they answered, “Yes.”
I gave them a load of fresh vegetables, about 25 lbs each. One man noticed a bag with plantains.
“Can I trade for that one?”
I smiled, “Of course!”
I haven’t stopped thinking about them. Where do they live? Where do they sleep? Do they have kids?
I have to go back.
What surprised you most about this story?
You can read our last post, Love Your Neighbor As Yourself to meet some of the people we love and serve.