English Romantic poet, Lord Byron, once said, “The dew of compassion is a tear.” After visiting a trash dump in Nicaragua, where over 4,000 families struggle to survive among waste and filth, I understood what it truly meant to be compassionate; I understood what it meant take a moment and live in the life of those who have nothing; I understood the pain of a starving child. And as I looked into her eyes, what fell from my face was first a single tear, which eventually turned into a sea of tears.
Cristo Rey, is a trash dump for Nicaraguan residents, which has turned into a community of families. These families live in small huts made of black plastic, tin cans, tree bark, whatever they could find to build four walls to surround them and a roof to cover their head at night. In the fields, man and beast fight; they fight through debris for a small piece food.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
As a result of extreme poverty, the residents can barely consume a meal a day. Children go without eating. During this trip to Nicaragua, I was able to be apart of a great mission. There are 175 children, 12 and under, who are able to receive a meal a day from a mission group that serves lunch on the weekdays. I was able to assist in serving food and drinks to these children. You see, because of lack of food, each child suffers from malnutrition and starvation. Streaky blonde hair signifies malnutrition, and bulging stomachs signify starvation.
A young boy, about 3 years old, comes running to the tent, unclothed, blonde, and hungry for food. But he won’t beg, he waits in line just like the others. That was the beauty in this situation. Each child was grateful. They did not show signs of greed or gluttony. The older children shared with the younger kids; they were honest. And above all, they were thankful. After every cup of water I handed out, and every plate of rice and beans, I heard a thank you-more like, “Gracias.” They made it a point to look into the eyes of those who have given them the meal, which could ultimately save their life for one more day, and be thankful with a smile.
I was amazed; these are the children you see on television; the children who stand with the announcer who probes viewers every day to dial an 800 number and give to a starving child. But many of us never call because of laziness or simply lack of knowledge. This experience was way more than a television commercial. Honestly, one may never know how important it is to give and touch lives, until they physically “touch lives.”
I know what it is like to hold a starving child in my arms. I know what it is like to be amongst the sick and dying. I know what it is like to feel like I have nothing, when in all reality, I live in abundance. We, as Americans, live in abundance; and it is from this abundance that we must learn to give. We must go out, travel, and touch what is tangible, so that we can become capable of experiencing the intangible: love and compassion.
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