By Ashley Pugh
Monday, our group spent the day in Emiliano Zapata Sur to continue refining our modules. We ate breakfast together before traveling and shared our thoughts and expectations about the day ahead. There was lots of anticipation and slight anxiety about what to expect. Once we arrived, we set up a home base at Victor’s feeding program site. After getting settled Victor, our community liaison took us on a walking tour through the community. We saw various living conditions. Many homes offered services that were otherwise unavailable, such as: laundry, cooked meals, novelties, etc. There are so many modern conveniences that we take for granted.
Walking through the neighborhood, Victor described some of the challenges for his community: abuse, school access for the children, and lack of resources. As we were on our walk we saw the brightly painted houses with iguanas and many fruit trees. A Mayan healing plant, the Chaya was on several properties. Our translators said you need to speak to the plant kindly before taking any of its leaves, according to ancestral knowledge. These leaves look like green maple leaves, and can sting the skin. They need to be boiled before consumed as a green drink.
For many of us it was difficult to imagine this as the reality for anyone in the 21st century. For others it was a gut wrenching reminder of the unequal distribution of resources; common in our society. An unacceptable reality.
Each morning I start my day by listing things that I am grateful for and end it with things that I have learned. This was a moment to reflect with gratitude. 1. I am surrounded by people I love much like the people of Emiliano Zapata Sur. 2. I have access to clean water that is almost as pure as the hearts of the children we spent time with at the feeding program. 3. I can change. I have the privilege of being able to change my situation…. because I want to.