Throughout my time backpacking, I have been taken aback by more startling cases of poverty than I would like to account for. I’ve been traveling now for six months and as you can imagine, money is tight. It’s easy to make excuses for why I can’t give money away to strangers…
- Money is tight.
- I could give money to one person who is begging, but there are even more watching and that would cause a huge disturbance where I’d have to give to more people.
- I simply cannot give money away to people everyday.
- If I take my wallet out, I run the risk of getting robbed.
- I’ll be drawing more attention to myself as a foreigner. My long blonde hair already has me looking like a unicorn around here.
Today I went out to eat for lunch. The portion was absolutely enormous. I took out my computer, started scheduling tours and trip planning, all while I nibbled away at my lunch until it was gone. I have a big complex not finishing my meals now, knowing that there are hungry people wherever I am living. Whenever I take a to-go box, it’s always my luck that I never find someone to give it to.
At any rate, I finished my meal, absolutely 100% stuffed like a turkey on Thanksgiving.
I left a restaurant, and just a few feet away from me, a man took a to-go box out of the garbage can on the street and was smelling it. It’s my third day in Bogotá, Colombia, where they say you shouldn’t even walk around with a cell phone or purse if you can help it.
I was paralyzed in the sense that I had to keep moving. I had to keep walking. I wanted to go back, to ask him if I could buy him a sandwich. I was totally unprepared. I was so full and I wanted to cry. I kept hoping he would be a few feet behind me so I could stop at a sandwich shop to wait up for him, but I lost him.
I messed up.
I saw a man, like many others, who was so hungry that he had to look in the garbage for hid food. I was unprepared, like so many other times, and did nothing to help him.
It’s been two hours since this happened and I’m still nauseous and holding back tears. It’s time for action.
I wish I was able to take pictures so that you could understand all that I’ve seen. If you saw the pain and suffering that I have been seeing on such a profound level, I know you would feel the same way but I’m going to pray that my writing can get the point across I really need to help.
I’m going to start putting together care packages for people. I almost always go out with a mini-backpack to carry my things everyday, so it will be easy to keep a few and give them out. I am even willing to dedicate a certain amount of hours per week to finding people to give to.
I’m not sure how many I can afford to make on my own, but I am thinking that maybe I can also use my network to raise money for the cause, so that we can make a difference together.
My heart is broken for these people who are suffering and I am not willing to go another day avoiding eye contact or getting caught off guard and being unprepared when it’s time to help out.
I know I cannot save the world. But I can do something. Even if that just means easing someone’s pain for just one day. You can help too, if you would like.
Within the next 24 hours, I am going to start putting packages together. I just got to Colombia so I have no idea where to go shopping or anything. Some of my ideas for the packages are: Gloves, Socks, Toiletries, Food, Water.
I have exactly two months until I return to the USA. I am challenging myself to see how much of a difference I can make in Latin America before I get home. I am challenging you to use me as a vessel and see how much of a difference YOU can make.
I would love to hear as much feedback and ideas as possible. There is a lot of work to do, and I’m just a little fish in the sea— and I’d love to have a school behind me 🙂
I started a GoFundMe link where you can make monetary donations towards the care packages that I will make. I will edit the site with further details once I get a system down. $1 will make a difference and goes a lot further than in the U.S.