Luke’s Journal: Weak Link

January 20, 2018

Basura. Everywhere trash. And yet, amidst the dust and trash, a beautiful community garden, growing fruits and vegetables, many of which don’t even exist in the States.  A hope for cleaner air, safer communities, better lives.  These people are strong. These people are generous. These people are people.

This is Villa María del Triunfo*, Villa El Salvador*, and so many others.  On the hills surrounding the coastal city of Lima. Where so many have come in hopes of a new life, a better life, slowly expanding the city up and around the many desert hills surrounding Lima.

When we pulled up to the cemetery where Maria Elena Moyano is buried, I was reminded. It felt like the outskirts of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Small, seemingly thrown-together houses.  Persistent kids trying to sell you flowers, an incredible view of the vast shantytowns that are Lima.  Not the “westernized” Miraflores*, or Mira FLOWERS, as some call it. The adobe-colored houses stretch off forever – up the side of every hill for as far as the eye can see.  It was a stark reminder of the incredible poverty, and even more, the astronomical economic divide in the world.  Here was I, a RICH WHITE AMERICAN MAN telling a young dark-skinned Peruvian girl no more than ten years old, that I didn’t want to pay two Soles for flowers, something that would have set me back a mere 60 cents.  Me and my privileged, Western, capitalistic drive for money kept me from giving 60 cents to a young Peruvian girl for a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Wow.

But she’s just one, what difference could it make?  There’s 10 million in Lima alone, 7+ billion in the world.  Our minds can’t even comprehend numbers this big.  They’re just really big.  But I can visualize One.  One’s easy. One dollar. One Sol. One flower. One young girl. One people. One world.  It makes a difference to her. One can make a difference.

But what about the rest? One at a time is slow. But slow is better than no.  Infinitely better, mathematically speaking.  But fast is better than slow. How do we make a bigger impact than one at a time? What if we could raise everyone up just the smallest bit? Would that be better than drastically improving several lives? Yes. I believe that society is weak-link.

*districts of Metropolitan Lima; Miraflores is where SST classes are held.