Wednesday, January 6, 2010

La Chureca

La Chureca
By: Jesenia Ortiz & Mark Van Buren

In the United States we hear the term "dumpster diving" but here in Nicaragua it has a completely different meaning. In "el bario" (neighborhood) of Acahualinca is the city dump "La Chureca." One thousand two hundred families live in this bario, while 200 of them make their home and living inside the actual dump. Families roam the dump for raw materials to be sold in the city of Managua, clothing, and most importantly food, that has been rotting for days.

In the U.S. for some people dumpster diving is a lifestyle whereas in "La Chureca" it is a reality and way of life. Just driving past the outskirts of La Chureca, you are exposed to men, women, and children searching for life supplies which for us are usually bought at a store. The first thing that we saw approaching the outside of the La Chureca were three children jumping into a heap of garbage contained by a truck. The people in La Chureca are so desperate for supplies and food that they cannot even wait for the garbage to be dumped. This was a very difficult sight for all of us, and we weren't even allowed to enter the actual dump. Small flames of burning trash lay scattered outside the walls of the actual dump while smoke polluted the community's air, slowly infecting the lungs and respiratory system of inhabitants. Sadly the ones affected the most by the pollution are children, and keeping in mind that medical assistance in this area is extremely limited.

It should be noted here that these are REAL HUMAN BEINGS living in this community. We tend to dehumanize these people because it is too painful to come to the reality that they are no different than us. By creating them in to an "other" we avoid action and our responsibility to create change. Reading or hearing about it is one thing, but actually witnessing and connecting to these people as ourselves is something completely different. Team Nica 2010 is prepared to educate people back home in the states in order to create on-going systematic change and development.


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  2. It must be really challenging to observe all this hardship and not be able to lend a hand right away, especially when you see children living in such conditions.

    I am hopeful, though, that all your efforts as observers in Nicaragua, being educated firsthand, will help open a lot of closed eyes (and redirect the eyes of those who choose to look away) here in America. Learning is step one. Bringing awareness to the unaware is step two. Making lasting changes soon follows...

    You are all, undoubtedly, a remarkable group of human beings...

    Much love and support to you all,

    PS- I miss and LoVE you, Mark!!!!! xo

  3. "Reading or hearing about it is one thing, but actually witnessing and connecting to these people as ourselves is something completely different."
    Absolutely, I do hope you got to meet Yami. What an amazing HUMAN BEING!

    Sending loving vibrations your way,