Yesterday, Wednesday, was HUMP DAY! We have officially made it half way through our trip. I don't think any of us are too happy about it though. We are having such a grate time here, it is hard to think about leaving.
We started the day bright and early as usual. I was struggling to brush my teeth with bottled water when I heard Miguel mumble something about a 'clinic.' I quickly decided that my toothbrush was rinsed well enough so I ran out to the meeting room to ask about the clinic. I was very excited when Father Ted told us we would be visiting the "Esperanza Clinic" this morning.
We boarded the bus at 8:45 am. About 3 upbeat Spanish songs later we arrived at the clinic. We were greeted by a very friendly faced nun (Sister Silvia) who welcomed us and gave us a tour. The clinic was built to serve the people living on a huge landfill. She explained that many of the residents there get sick from living so close to all that garbage.
After the tour she brought us out back to show us a view of the whole town. When she told us that the people lived on a garbage dump I didn't realize how serious she was . There mountains of scrap metal, tires and plastic that seemed to go on forever. The houses were scattered atop mounds of trash.
I think what surprised me more than the conditions that the people were living in was that they were living at all. We only met about three members of the community for a brief moment but they seemed truly happy we were there. When we first stepped out to the back Sister Silvia ran to the edge of the hill and yelled "Toni!" A man came out and walked up a steep hill to us. His face was wrinkled but his eyes were warm . When he shook my hand I could feel the callouses from years of working hard. He looked up at me and smiled with the most beautiful, genuine smile. From a dental perspective, his smile left quite a lot to be desired, but there was something about it that was so human, and that was what made it beautiful.
I think what surprised me the most was throughout this whole trip is how much joy and pride the people find in their homes. We come and see the conditions that the people live in and we feel terrible about the level of poverty, but they still live dignified lives. It's amazing to see them working to help one another. Every day three young boys from the neighborhood come and work as hard as we do to help their neighbor.