I’m living in the world of The Hunger Games. If you don’t know about The Hunger Games, read about it online sometime, it’s a trilogy of fiction novels that were adapted into movies a few years ago.
I’ve just been shocked by things that I see around me and learn as I meet new people and adjust to my new community. And almost after every single instance one of my first thoughts is “I can’t believe this is actually happening.” Or “I can’t believe I didn’t know about this before.” Or “I can’t believe people still have to live with burdens like this.”
In the end honestly what I feel is conviction because I start thinking “I can’t believe I didn’t do something sooner.” Not that I can fix the world and solve all the problems… trust me I know I can’t and I know that’s not what God’s called me to do! But I feel conviction and burden to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.
The problems here in Travesía have been going on a long time and it’s obvious everywhere I look.
-I see it in the boys at the academy and their friends. Many of these kids who don’t have a mother or father because they have either: 1. Died of AIDS because it’s ravaged this part of the world or 2. Their parent or parents have just straight up abandoned them and left this place trying to escape this life or 3. Their parent or parents have abandoned them for whatever reason and still live in town, but don’t want anything to do with them. (I could spend a while just writing my thoughts on that. But maybe I’ll save that one for later.)
-I see the deeply entrenched problems in the rampant alcohol and drug abuse here. I can understand a little better after being here now who many people can’t physically escape and so substance is their choice for escape from the hopelessness around them.
I feel like the depiction in The Hunger Games novels is a perfect picture of part of this reality down here. Please here this with all respect, but I feel more and more like so many forgotten corners of the world like Travesía are the embattled districts. And so much of the thriving, stable first world is the Capitol. The picture of plenty of food, a nice home, a car, plenty of pleasures and entertainment are thrown into stark contrast here with lack of clean water, houses made of cane or wood scraps, and the hopelessness from not being able to escape a cycle of poverty and neglect that has been around for generations.
Travesía is interesting because it is so beautiful and so ugly at the same time! There’s an amazing Caribbean beach, lots of fresh (and delicious) seafood, coconut trees dot the landscape and many of the people are friendly, open and very laid back. BUT stay look deeper into each picture and you see more: an amazing amount of trash and garbage on the beach the mirrors the neglect and abuse that hangs over this place; a thriving fruit and vegetable industry where most of the crops grown don’t stay here but are exported to far away grocery stores and the options that are delivered are here not very good and still very expensive; and people who are chill and laid back because they are often very high or intoxicated or just been beat down for so long they have given up and don’t care anymore.
Enter into us into this picture. Some white folks, a Guatemalan and some local Honduran guys. We couldn’t look more out of place here! Want to be a part of this picture and help change what that picture looks like in the future. We believe that this place can change, that people can be revived, that communities can come alive again. That is our hope for this place. We see so much potential in this place and in the 36 boys we get to work with everyday at the academy.
Despite this bleak place and the hard circumstances, they are not forgotten. God loves them, knows them and wants to change their lives and change the trajectory of this community through them. These boys have personality, they love to have fun, they love to laugh and they have been sticking around everyday, even through the insane workouts and the discipline and the hard talks. They are showing that they are willing to stick it out, even through the hard stuff, if someone is willing to help them, teach them, and be a part of their lives. I pray that they become more open and more willing to this as throughout the years here!