|Posted by Sam Gould on August 2, 2012 at 4:40 PM|
One does not realize how much they have until he/she is stripped of it. I take so much for granted on a daily basis because the gifts God has given me are a part of my daily life. The youth from El Salvador that we were blessed to connect with this week have only but tin houses (many times, with trash bags for a roof) to call their own. Poverty and a lack of security is their daily life. However, getting to know all of the beautiful youth made me appreciate that God sometimes gives gifts in non-material form: the Salvadorans are so full of happiness and are so dedicated to their families and communities. I realized this when Ishmael, a 23-year-old man for Los Calix, one of the communities we visited explained his experience of the time he had to flee because a gang was threatening him. While on the migrant trail to the US, he got kidnapped by drug dealers. They told his family that unless they could pay a certain amount, they would kill him. Though the family had nothing to begin with, they somehow got the money together—a true blessing from God—and saved Ishmael’s life.
Back in the US, I live in Westwood, Massachusetts: a respectable town, filled with respectable families with respectable amounts of money (comfortably middle class.) The thing we worry most about is if it is going to rain or whether or not someone has the same color UGG boots as us. We would not be in the place to even imagine what it would be like to live the way the youth we met live, let alone to be threatened by a gang. It probably doesn’t even cross people’s mind, because poverty is not part of our daily life. We are so unaware of the rest of the world.
Though the Youth Encounter is over, its work has not ended. I will continue on with what I have learned in this gorgeous country until every person in every oblivious respectable town notices and appreciates the other seven billion people on this Earth. There are only four million people in the tiny country of El Salvador, half the size of New York City alone. Though it is small, its people have left a large stamp of friendship, love, and loyalty branded into my mind that is too big to be ignored. I owe it to Ishmael and all the other youth in all the other communities to share their story and let them be noticed. Though it is hard to tell at times, we have to remember that God made every person on this planet equal. We are equal.
- Halley Husted
Categories: YLA '11-'12: El Salvador