Tues. 4. — At this season we usually distribute coals and bread among the poor of the society. But I now considered, they wanted clothes, as well as food. So on this, and the four following days, I walked through the town, and begged two hundred pounds, in order to clothe them that needed it most. But it was hard work, as most of the streets were filled with melting snow, which often lay ankle deep; so that my feet were steeped in snow-water nearly from morning till evening…
John Wesley, (Journal, 1785)
C came to visit yesterday, mostly to talk about her business partnership and to ask for some help with the dissolution of that. C has little money, and of the little she has she buys food for others who have less. She lives among the campesinos and knows their poverty first hand, unlike many in San Miguel who praise all that is being done for those in need. C sees the child prostitutes, brings this topic to authorities and NGOs and is met with deaf ears. There is a big walkathon in San Miguel that raises money, supposedly to help those abused women who seek shelter for themselves and their children; C tells me of the women she sees on a daily basis who receive no benefit from the funds that were raised. Where does the money go? She tries to get the leaders of the walkathon to visit the women C knows, but that is not a walk they wish to make.
There are institutions in San Miguel, mentioned in reverent terms, that supposedly help young women from troubled homes that quickly turn the women, girls actually, out should they become pregnant. They could, of course, help them learn life skills to deal with their pending motherhood, but according to C they are turned out to fend for themselves.
C tells me that the children of the poor do not attend school, so what jobs will they be able to fulfill? How will the cycle be broken? When I showed her a presentation I was working on that includes some information about prenatal and neonatal development she said the girls in the campo gangs need that kind of education because no one – especially a girl’s mother – has ever shared that type of knowledge with them. She tells me of children whose parents do not read to them because the parents were not read to as a child; cycles remain virgin to change.
She claims that when she asks norteamericanos to come and take a look, they always have an excuse not to. No one is willing to see the homes without water, the roofless shelters where water is stored in paint buckets and there is no ladder to reach the tinaco on the roof. Having lived here for 20 years she has seen the do-gooders come and attend fund-raisers and parties, then return to U.S. with photos of artists and musicians they’ve met.
Normally, except for the sound of the children at school, birds in the trees and the occasional dog whose boredom has been upset, the casita is quiet. For some reason yesterday was a day of concrete being poured at the school behind me (therefore forms had to be hammered into place), there was construction taking place at two nearby houses, and the machine shop was hammering some things into place.
C and I started lunch under a sunny sky that grayed over, then presented us with a few drops, then a few more, and then we were inside. We talked for hours, of common acquaintances, she of men past and future, then she left, and a harder rain closed out the evening.