By Stephanie Fisk
Part II continued from Part I.
Faces peer over the precipice. They are puzzled to see two gringos approaching their house from the dump. This definitely doesn’t happen everyday. Though they are a bit confused and amazed, they are hungry to learn and eager to accept. I take my last step, take a deep breath, and smile back at the curious faces. Tim heads over to the oldest gentleman, and they exchange hugs like old friends. They met yesterday, here in Nicaragua – that makes them best buds. His name is Adolfo Mohica. (About all Spanish names have four parts, but I do not remember the middle two.) He is the head honcho the father of twelve and the grandfather to many. He’s a wise, God-fearing man who has spent eighty years of persevering through each day. The joy and pride he has for his family is evident in his smile. He loves the Lord, and his main goal in life is for all of his kids and grandkids to experience this same hope. Without hope, what does this life have to offer? For their family, it’s a lot of trash.
A black and gold dog brushes by my leg and heads towards the other animals three pigs, another dog and a handful of chickens that are relaxing in the shade of a giant tree planted firmly in the middle of their yard. “Come and sit,” requests Adolfo, as he directs one of his grandkids to bring two chairs for the two gringos. I sit in the red, plastic seat with the right armrest missing. Faces crowd around me, and I am quickly introduced to everyone Karle, Carlos, Jackeline, Mario, Julio, Alex, Manual, and little Hector.
Hector puts his chubby, dirty hands together and holds them out to me. Not knowing what to do, I just repeat this action and hold my hands up beside his sticky fingers. This brings a smile to his face. His brown eyes light up. Next thing I realize, he is leaning over to me and plops a slobbery besito (little kiss) smack on my cheek. The onlookers all giggle. Each new visit, I eagerly looked forward to this greeting.
While we begin to converse, I try to make a mental note of my surroundings. There are a couple houses situated on their property: one large, city-like dwelling, a small one-room tin house, and a rusted structure that is collapsing into the dump. Many of Aldolfo’s kids and grandkids call this home. Their home is perched across from the city landfill. It’s about two o’clock in the afternoon, and the smoke from the burning trash is blowing in their direction, along with the dust from the ground. It’s not pleasant, but they are used to it. They work in it everyday seven a.m. to twelve p.m. except Sundays. It’s the family business, kids and all. Unfortunately, this means work and no school for all of the youngsters, except one lucky girl who is around sixteen years old. When the garbage truck dumps the trash on the ground, everyone grabs their stick and pushes the trash over the ledge. As they sort through the garbage, the recyclable objects are salvaged: paper, metal objects, bottles and aluminum products. They are sorted and saved in large white bags until payday, which comes on the first and fifteenth of every month. These sacks are then carried on their backs all the way through the trash heap and stored in their house until they are weighed and bought by the city.
Hector hops down from his mom’s lap and starts chasing after one of their chickens. Unlike many kids in the US, he actually catches it and proceeds to hug it as it tries to get free. After a short struggle, the chicken breaks free, and the two-year-old lets out a shriek and hobbles after it. Coughing, he returns to the circle and stands by his twelve year-old sister, Jackeline. She pulls his green, grubby shirt up to his face and wipes his runny nose. Because of the daily dose of smoke and dust, Hector constantly lives with a cough, as does the majority of the family. Right now, he also has the flu. They are thinking that this time it might actually be pneumonia. He lets out a little whimper but is soon distracted once again. This time he heads off for the soccer ball. This is his life; for this little boy, being sick is normal.
I’m hooked. So is Tim. We will be back many times throughout the next few weeks. The Mohica family is a precious gift from God. Truly an answer to prayer. As I look out over the landfill, reality begins hit. It will take a lot longer to sink in. And understanding may never come this is where they live. This family has truly built their physical home and existence upon trash. Yet, I know that Adolfo is saving up treasures in heaven he understands. His spiritual home and existence is built upon Jesus Christ the only One who can lift a man and his family out of the dumps and into the heavens.
Stephanie Fisk is a traveler of the world, embarking on a personal pilgrimage called the World Race, an affiliate of Wrecked.