Monday 23rd September 2019
It seems like everyone is ill at the moment, mostly with dengue. I remember having dengue on the first Camino por Amor walk and it came to my attention when someone asked me why my t-shirt was covered in blood! Having dengue is not great to be honest and the virus can come back and haunt you further along the line and in some cases can lead to death if not treated quickly.
Given the fact that the rainy season is in its last throws, the increase in the number of mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus has also increased. We are visiting those affected and taking medicine and other things that will help with both the reduction of temperature and replenishment of lost fluids.
I was most aware of mosquitoes the other week when I went with Pete to visit Jesus and Marcos, as Jesus was keen to show me his new house. The visit left me shaken to be honest as Marcos squatted down on the floor and just cried. He was overwhelmed by his life and had got to the end and could not cope any more. Their mum was crying and I was trying my best to comfort them knowing that as I was doing so I was been bitten by numerous mosquitoes. Their little shack (photo below) was alive with them and so I went back a few days later with long lasting repellents that will mean the place is free from insects for the next few weeks.
Jesus is known to many as the boy who, thanks to Willie Reid, was given a camera to take photographs of his life on the rubbish dump. Willie then produced a calendar featuring the photos and the sale of them went to supporting them for two years.
Life has hit Jesus, Marcos and his mum very hard and they lost all they had recently in a fire. So now they start yet again with nothing, and that is distressing to see.
My frustrations at seeing just how they were living has led me to a personal crusade to find them alternative accommodation and to buy them beds, a table and three chairs. This will dramatically transform their lives and thanks to those who had responded to some pictures I posted on Facebook, we might be able to help a little with the costs. In the long term I believe they will need to be sponsored each month as there is no way the mum can bring up these boys on the little she earns on the rubbish dump. Some days all they have gained from a hard day working on the dump, as I saw when I visited, is a small bag of tomatoes.
I know we can make a difference and being here and being able to respond to the needs all around is a privilege indeed.
Each year on the 15th September we celebrate Guatemala´s independence. This year the celebrations have been as noisy and disruptive as always and I can only imagine what it will be like in two years’ time when we celebrate 200 years of independence.
The kids just love the run up to the day, the 15th of September, and many are keen to be part of their school marching bands. The discipline involved in the many hours of practice is something we encourage as it keeps them off the streets, in school longer and focused on positive cultural activities that can only help strengthen their feeling of being part of their society and something much bigger than themselves.
Our annual walk/ run from our mentoring centre to the central plaza not far away is an exciting event. We gather with our torches and march or run down the cycle path on one of the main streets and meet hundreds on the way all blowing whistles and waving flags and then get our torches lit from the central flame. The run back to the centre is just as much fun, but now with new meaning as we take the flame of independence back to our centre and celebrate together while coping with tired, but happy kids who are now covered in blue and white paint.