Remember Those Who We Often Forget

Daniel - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on May 13, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that when life hurls one of its many problems is the best time to remember how good you really have it. This realization came to me fairly recently in my life. It all came about the summer before my sophomore year, when I joined a group of 15 others from my church on a week-long Mission Trip to rural Honduras. Here we would stay in a ranch run by a Christian mission organization. From here we would travel to our rural village that we worked with each day.

To give some background on Honduras, consider this: Honduras is one of the poorest countries in South America, with most people making only a meager $300 a year. Do the math. That is less than a dollar a day. This is how they are actually live. People in America comply about living on minimum wage. Imagine living on a sixth of that, while in a wooden hut, often without even a simple concrete floor.

The people of rural Honduras are not just behind in the material spectrum, but they were also very lacking in overall health. The malnourishment in many children was near epidemic proportions. Someone in our group would often ask a child that looked around 3 years old in our broken version of Spanish, “Cuantos años tienes?” The kids would smile, hold up six fingers and pronounce proudly, “Siete!” This shocked many of us as it was just not one or two kids, but it afflicted nearly all the kids of their village and surrounding villages, in which there kids who would visit since they heard “Americanos” were here.

Similar problems affected adults as many of them appeared middle aged or older, when in reality; most of them had not hit 35 years old. This was most prevalent during one of the last days when we helped construct a house for a sick lady in the village that had just returned from the hospital. If you had told me this lady was in her late 50’s or 60’s it would not have surprised me.. Instead we learned she was 36 years old.

Now all of this may just seem like another sad story of the deplorable conditions in a third-world country. However, there is much more to it than that. Even more obvious than all the poverty, poor health, and feudal-aged conditions was the attitude of the villagers. From children to adults, all of them almost always had a smile on their face, seemingly content with life. This is saying a lot considering how little they have. How could a “rich” American ever be sad, with all the modern technology, conveniences, and opportunities we have compared to billions of others on this planet? So next time life throws a punch, take it in stride, for at least we can go home to a safe house, with a nice bed, hot food, and a generally good life. I’ll certainly remember this when I go back to Honduras this summer.