I was 6 years old when I experienced poverty for the first time. I had a really good friend from church and her parents were experiencing tough times. She invited me over to her house during summer vacation for three days. When I got to her house I didn’t understand why the restroom was outside and why it didn’t have a bathtub or a shower like at my house.
As the days passed by I was more and more confused. I didn’t understand why we were having “Maruchan” (instant soup) for three days in a row instead of grilled chicken with some pasta and salad. After those three days of eating instant soup, playing in the dirt, and taking showers with a bucket inside a big aluminum tub in the middle of the kitchen, the only thing that I could think of was “why?” The truth is that I was mad. I wasn’t mad because of what I ate, or where I slept. I was mad that a family of 5 was living in those conditions.
Sadly, I couldn’t do anything back then. I grew up in Tijuana, but for 7 years I lived in Chula Vista (south San Diego) and when I got married I moved back to Tijuana. It has been almost two years and it’s been very different than when I was a child.
Even though we have seen poverty for so many years we will never get used to it. Every family is different and everyone has a different story to tell.
Poverty surrounds us everywhere we go in Tijuana from the moment we leave our house until we get to our destination. We always see houses in bad condition, hungry kids on the streets, or people asking for money at a traffic light. I think that at some point we lie to ourselves and we become less sensitive to it. We either tell ourselves they don’t need it or that they are lying about their conditions. But when we see a person asking for money what we should do is ask ourselves, “what is the right thing to do?”
As humans we would think that the healthiest thing to do would be to isolate ourselves in our own world and learn to not see the poverty that surrounds you - but in reality we should be peacemakers.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” Matthew 5:9
A peacemaker is a person who brings an end to a conflict. I have learned to see poverty as a new opportunity to stop injustice. As a person that lives in Tijuana, I feel responsible and even more so now that I work for Amor. My responsibility does not end the moment that I get out of my office or when I get home. My responsibility is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We need to be strong and courageous to put an end to poverty. Let’s be peacemakers.