I don't remember if I have described the process of getting to the Mission. It is an hour and a half bus ride one way. My first month or two here I was battling with motion sickness/nausea practically every time I got into any moving vehicle including taxies and worse yet buses. I think it is some reaction to a blessed life driving myself around almost everywhere back home. So the prospect of 2.5-3 hours in a bus every time we would go work with the kids was hard to swallow. Thanks be to God, after five months of making this journey, my body has decided to cooperate. I wish I could make the time more productive, say by reading or writing something (my body says NO! to that), or perhaps meditation and or prayer... that has yet to come anywhere near to working out... too many distraction? I suppose. I did successfully complete one Seduco puzzle (easy seduco) but I totally blocked when I started the second puzzle and haven't tried it again. So basically it is just time to let my mind wander about as it pleases. Audra and I usually end up sitting in different seats when we have the opportunity to each have a window seat. She and I try to reason that a window seat helps alleviate the nausea.
It is amazing what you can witness in an hour/half bus ride. At any moment along the ride someone might board the bus, hop over the turn-stile and pass around candies or music to sell. I especially enjoy when someone lugs in a harp, a guitar or a boom-box to accompany a home-mixed rap about their life. All of these are people's way of making some money. Unlike in the states, where we have a host of social relief programs, food stamps, half-way houses, churches to give out lunches, etc, it is not that simple here. I am not at all forgetting those who do fall through the cracks; however, when it comes to South America you can't talk about cracks, you must speak in terms of gorges reminiscent of the Grand Canyon. So what does the situation look like? It is too big and complicated for me to get a clear visualization. There are factors like the government just doesn't have the infrastructure or preparedness to deal with so much poverty. For example when you get 1,000;s or 10,000 displaced because of waring and Gorillas what are these folks supposed to do to survive? What opportunities exist for them? I have no idea where to start asking for such answers.
It would be completely overwhelming and not possible to give money to everyone who comes in need. So I have struck a balance. One: I have chosen to donate to folks who serve us with lovely music, with well hewn talet. My three favorites to date... A harpist (I was going to donate to this one when I saw him lug that huge thing over the turn-stile), a female guitarist and vocalist (she was playing in a packed rush-hour bus and received a strong round of applause and some pretty sweet tips), the third was a rapper and his boom-box (he was actually really good and I understood every word). However my favorite is when someone steps aboard with nothing at all but themselves. They have no chocolates, gums, CD's or music. These individuals stand up in front of complete strangers and after greeting the crowed they start into their recent life stories of how they got to be where they are (in their need). They are all in need, many have families and everyone of them want to be in better circumstances. There is no better source to learn about the human trials of fallen fortune. The folks that I choose to donate to are the men and women who have enriched my life for having heard their stories. I have heard stories from a number of men who had been in prison. One man who had been in prison for stealing for sake of need, he had determined to not resort to stealing and was so in front of us asking us to help. One women who was going from bus to bus trying to get enough money together to get her child the surgery she needed (Medicare does not exist here). And just the other day a man who, with his family, had moved to Bogotá (I missed the reason for this move) and was now living on the street with no family to contact searching for and not finding work (12% unemployment in Colombia/Bogotá) and with a three year old to feed. He described how they as a family would go from restaurant to restaurant begging for food just to get by that day. These are the stories that bring my heart to the earth, to their feet. Along with 1,000 or 2,000 pesos that I donate, I tuck them into my heart with a prayer. In the states I would have been cynical and say to myself what is a buck going to do for this persons greater needs? However here, a couple thousand pesos will buy a some bread to get them through the next day. Yeah there are those folks who are professional peddlers but I feel the majority are really trying to find a solution to their suffering, and having an empty stomach is not very conducive to thinking clearly.
At a latter date I will have to describe the business model here. It simply bogles my mind. It would be better accompanied with pictures.
Blessings and Peace