Before our flight took off we were given the routine instruction to turn off our cell phones, for me it marked the beginning of a week of detachment from technology, my daily routine and life as I formerly knew it. As I prepared to power down my phone I received one last text message.
I was on the bus a few days ago coming back from another day at Manos and sitting next to Josue, one of our ayudantes (helpers) at Manos. In the silence of bus ride, he all of sudden turns to me and says: “Did you know that 80% of the people in my country are poor? And most of them are so poor, I wouldn’t even know where to begin to help them.” As he turned back forward, my jaw was naturally at my feet. I did in fact know this fact; it is well known that since the 1970’s, Ecuador’s drastic economic situation has spared few. But I was so shocked and humbled by this teenager’s insight. How terrible it must be to know this fact – that 4 out of 5 people in your own nation can barely afford to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head (and many of them cannot.) It’s such a small fact, but it has big implications. How is Ecuador, a nation that spends 50% of its budget servicing debt, supposed to help its own citizens? The gravity of the situation is even more weighing; where does one start to address such evasive poverty?
It is in the stories and struggles of refugees - in their ability to renew and reshape their lives after horrendous losses, in their will to survive and forge ahead that I have recognized the presence of the Divine.… An unknowable strength, an indefinable resilience, and an indescribable forgiveness.