About two years ago I walked through the slums of Mazatlán, Mexico. I looked over at the children in the street, who were playing soccer barefoot, and almost tripped over the loose wires that the neighbors had used to create their own electrical system. I sat next to a mother in her one-room shack, and she welcomed me.
You may ask what a pale, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Kansas girl was doing in a ghetto south of the border. You may think that it seems like the perfect plot for a horror film.
I was working as an intern at Noroeste newspaper in Mazatlán, and my editor decided he wanted me to experience the “real Mexico.” You see, while the other Americans were slathering on the sunblock at Mazatlán’s beautiful beaches, I was experiencing parts of the city hidden to tourists.
I’m not saying I asked to visit the area. I was scared. I felt uncomfortable. I felt frivolous in my pretty designer clothing.
But the residents didn’t care. Sure, a few heads turned, but they welcomed me into their houses. They were eager to tell me about the injustices they had suffered; how the government wouldn’t help them and how they had to create their own electrical and sewage systems.
When I left that day, I felt morose. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that there was poverty in the world. I, myself, did not come from an affluent background. However, to see this firsthand, to talk to poverty’s victims, to see its children, deeply moved me.
Too often we place ourselves so distant from things that make us uncomfortable. We tell ourselves that it’s not our fault and we go on with our lives. We live blind and barren.
I am by birth a fighter for justice. However, my experiences in Mexico have made me stronger in my convictions. I can now put a face on poverty and injustice, and my desire for amnesty for all has increased.
I wish I could tell all of you to visit my little section of Mexico and talk to the people who I talked to, but that is impossible. What I can encourage you to do is open your heart. Understand that we are all connected in this world, and that everybody matters. Wealth should not be measured in dollars, but in love.
I would also encourage you to join me in fighting childhood poverty by sponsoring a child through Children International. I have been sponsoring a child for almost a year, and it is so encouraging to know that I am helping her become the person that she deserves to be.
Please join me. Help make a difference for one child. Show your love and support for those in poverty throughout the world.