Monday, September 18 - Visiting the slums
Today I witnessed poverty and brokenness like never before.
This is on the street before entering the slums.
These are "homes" and they are everywhere.
This is a church located in the slum.
This particular slum has about 5000 households.
It is one of the largest slums.
This is on the outskirts of the slum.
The kids were running after our bus as we drove through.
Some of the people were expecting us.
They were so excited to see us and their smiles were huge!
These people are squatters and they could be displaced with no notice.
They typically come from out in the country to find work.
They find open land and "build" these homes.
Then when the landowner decides to develop,
they will come in and bulldoze these homes.
I can't even begin to explain the sight and smell when we got out of the bus.
There is garbage everywhere.
You don't know what you're walking in or on.
The smell is awful and there are flies everywhere.
It is worse than you can imagine when you see it in person.
My heart was breaking for these people, especially these beautiful children.
Once we arrived we were taken to a home. It was actually much cleaner than I thought it would be. The home was smaller than a two car garage. It had a couch, a little room that fit a double bed (actually it wasn't really a room but just a couple of walls that surrounded the bed with no walking room on any side of it), and then there was a kitchen which had shelves with pots, pans, dishes, and what appeared to be a little wood burning stove. There was a ceiling fan that was attached to the ceiling with a coat hanger. Most homes do not have electricity. This home had a make-shift wire going tapped into an electrical pole which was most likely done illegally. It was quite a sight.
We were moved to another home but were not able to walk through the slum village. Apparently, it would become dangerous and we would be swarmed with the people. Here was the other home which was probably one of the nicest homes there. This is where they held the business training session.
This group of women are being taught how to make three types of soap.
Dish soap, floor soap (like Pinesol), and laundry soap.
They will go in on purchasing the materials together and then will sell them.
They are taught how to market and how to make a profit.
If I remember correctly, I believe it costs $2 to purchase the materials to make 7 liters of dish soap.
They will sell the soap for $1 per liter. This is about 25 people stuffed in a tiny room.
This house actually had windows and a door...very unusual.
These guys are sitting on their bed (also a couch I guess).
The women would not sit on the chairs or the bed...they insisted that we do.
After the training was over and they were cleaning up, one of our teammates grabbed a rag and started wiping the floor with it. All at once about 4 of the women lunged at her and said oh no, no. They giggled as if she was so silly to do that. It was funny! They took the rag from her and finished wiping the floor. It was almost as if it was instinct for them. There was no way they were going to allow anyone of us to help them clean up, that was clear. Then someone told us that they are untouchables. No one from a higher cast would EVER lift a finger for them. They see us as being from a higher cast. Although we are trying to bestow upon them the fact that in the Kingdom of God...there is no cast and they are infinitely valuable!
The women had a chance to ask us questions.
They asked us "What do you think we can do to get out of this poverty?"
What a difficult question to answer.
Yes, we told them they need to seek the Kingdom of God first.
We also encouraged them that they are on the right path.
Saving money and starting a business will most certainly be a good start.
How could I ever answer that question when I truly have no idea what it is to walk a day in their shoes. There are no homeless shelters.
There are no government welfare programs.
There are no food shelves.
They do not even have their basic needs met some days.
I have nothing to offer them...except the hope in Jesus!
The woman singing in this picture is a brand new Christian.
She wanted to sing for us.
Everywhere we go, the women want to perform or sing.
They are so full of joy!
This is typical everywhere we go.
They just sing their hearts out.
No band, no guitar....just heart and soul and clapping.
It's quite powerful and beautiful!
Of course, I spent most of my time looking into these eyes
They pierce my soul and my heart.
Last, but not least...another sweet little girl who caught my eye.
We stared at each other and played peek-a-boo most of the time.
I was memorized by her.
Her mother was beautiful as well and although we don't speak the same language in words, we are both mothers and we didn't need any words.
I left with a broken heart.
A heart that breaks for these beloved children of God.
For He so loved them that He sent His son to die for them.
I must say that this was the most difficult visit for me. As soon as our bus pulled away I began crying. I start to cry just typing this. I can't describe my emotions. Despite their circumstances, they women are full of life. They are making the best of what they have. I can't bear the thought of living in conditions such as that. I especially can't imagine my children living like that. I know that God did not intend for them to live that way either. I pray that they would come to know Him and know that He has plans for them.
Jeremiah 29:11 says For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
I asked the Lord to break my heart for what breaks His.
His certainly did that.