Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Swamped by Poverty

Photo: Josefina and her daughter, Dayana, gaze out the doorway of their humble home in the Swamp of the Virgin.

There’s nothing easy about a life of poverty. But for people like Josefina Masa Julio, who lives in the Ciénaga de la Virgen (Swamp of the Virgin) in Cartagena, Colombia, the difficulties are compounded. Winter here is warm and rainy – a fearsome time for these swamp dwellers, most of whom are people who have been displaced from their former homes in other areas of the country due to violence; now they find themselves living in flimsy shacks of cardboard and plastic sheeting, surrounded by the stagnant waters of one of Cartagena’s poorest – and wettest – neighborhoods.

Dangers abound in the Swamp. Each winter rain brings horrors with it: snakes and other creatures are driven out by the rising waters, diseases are rampant and homeowners spend sleepless nights watching over their household goods for fear of losing their meager possessions to nature in an unguarded moment. But the greatest tragedy is counted in human lives. Just a few years ago, Josefina lost her four-year-old son to the floodwaters.

This photo was snapped shortly after I visited Cartagena some months ago. Marelvis Campo, the Children International Communication Coordinator in Cartagena who took the picture, tells me that not much has changed for Josefina and her remaining three children, except that her oldest son has now moved out and is living on his own. She still depends on the few odd jobs she manages to round up each week. But by helping Josefina’s family with school supplies, providing free medical care for the children and helping them obtain a nutritionally balanced diet, Children International is bringing stability and hope to their otherwise precarious lives.

6 comments:

funkyyarnwoman said...

Thanks so much for this blog. It humbles me. Here I am grumbling that my hot water heater has to be relit. My life is abundant. You're blog opens my mind to what I can do to help!

Kelly said...

Thanks so much for your comment. It really is because of the involvement of people like you that we're able to do what we do. Thanks for pitching in!

Anonymous said...

I too would like to thank you for taking the time to do this blog and visitations. It is Humbling to see that they live with almost nothing and most of us can't be content with what we already have. God speed. Sincerely, Dana in Hershey Pa.

James said...

All of us are just a disaster away from living more or less like this. Middle class people here can't imagine what real poverty is like. Your blog gives us an idea. There are places in the U.S. too that are like this- plus they are cold. We need to pray for all the poor and do what we can for them.

Pearl V John said...

Thank you very much for the blog. I sponsor a girl in the area and I feel much closer to her and her family for seeing your photos and reading your comments.

Anonymous said...

thanks for setting this blog and visitation up so we can get a glimps of the lives of these people It's really a life touching experiance seeing what these beautiful people go through,we really take advantage of all the things we have , and should be more alert to the fact that our lives could be more trying, we complain about the ac or heat and what we eat. But should be doing more for others instead of grumbling so much about the blessings we have. I never realized what these kids face daily. Now My eyes are open and my mind is aware of how truily great these people are for being so humble in there lives. Ken Nc.