I invite you to take a look at this child. I met this child in the Managua City Dump several years ago. Her face, her eyes, her words forever changed me. Let me situate the experience for you…
It’s very hot and humid in the dump, as it is most days in Nicaragua…upper 90’s. Then, when you add the stench of the dump itself, it truly offends every sense in your body. Your eyes see the horror, your nose smells the rot, your mouth can almost taste the smoke from fires burning the garbage, you hear people pleading with the garbage truck drivers for first dibs and you hear the hissing sounds of the vultures fighting the people for the garbage.
Finally, TOUCH? No, don’t touch anything, everything is filthy. My mind races with revulsion, fear, a sense of being overwhelmed with the immensity of the human tragedy, and the relentless desire to do something, anything, to make it better, to make it disappear.
And it is at that precise moment, that this little one pictured here, comes out of the mounds of garbage, running up to me with her knotted hair, runny nose, tattered clothes and wraps her grubby tiny hands around my knees, looks up at me and says to me in Spanish, “Are you going to feed me?”
Of course, she would ask that question. She was a child who lived in the dump; she was hungry and she seemed to be without an adult in her nearby surroundings. Of course, she would ask me that question. I had just climbed out of a vehicle, I was white skinned and I had clean clothes….of course, she would ask if I could feed her, if we could feed her.
Tears leaked out of my eyes as I had to explain to her that I/we had no food with us. I had to be truthful and not give false hope. I told her I hoped to tell her story so we could seek help and figure out ways to help feed the hungry in that location. She sadly smiled and walked away out of my sight before I could ask her name.
That child seared every sense of my being- sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. The other missioners with me were equally affected, and our trip back to our facility was silent, except for the sounds of sobs. That Mission trip, we decided to help feed those children through other contacts nearby. And before we left to come home, we did and we went back to the dump to do so.
What you see in this child’s hands, is a meager meal from that day. What happened next changed my life forever. She had the same clothes, same knotted hair, same runny nose, but she turned to me with a smile and simply said, “I had hoped you would come back”. HOPED…
Once again, I was taken aback by the words I heard and forgot to ask her name. Before I left, I promised I would come back and see her on my next mission. The sad reality is that on subsequent numerous trips, I searched for that girl and never saw her again. I can pray that something good happened to her, but it is more likely, something awful happened. Yet, she was …and is….the face of God for me. She is on my computer screen saver, and she’s in my soul. I will never know her name and maybe it was meant to be that way. However, what I do know is that I’m so grateful she hugged me and I’m grateful that many missioners helped feed her and other hungry children, and I’m grateful that so many of you help us to feed the hungry.
Perhaps when you can, you will share from your blessings and help us to continue to feed the hungry through our emergency food program. Thank you. That child lived in HOPE… and so must we.
Live and be Hope to one another,
Sr. Debbie Blow, OP