After visiting the Kunas villages today, I feel both physically and emotionally drained. The poverty and misfortune that these people face on a daily basis is overwhelming. Our focus is bringing help and awareness to the plight of the disabled Kunas people. To make our journey even more emotional and saddening, all our interviews were with disabled children and their families. The majority of our crew interviewed with the families and listened to how they didn’t have the money to take their children into the city to get help for the diseases. In most cases, they didn’t even have the money to eat daily meals, a luxury that many of us take for granted. Even when the family did have food, they had to first give it to the disabled child because they were in the most need. However, this left the other children and adults in the household hungry.
I took the photos of the babies and their mothers and felt an enormous wave of guilt for all my blessings that I take for granted, like food and clean water and security, not to mention a carpeted floor or decent shoes to wear.
My only escape from the sadness of these stories was finding a group of boys climbing a tree who made it clear they wanted their pictures taken. I gladly appeased them and began a photo shoot with first about six, and then the number quickly grew to about thirteen. They were so much fun to talk to (what little spanish I knew) and they were really enjoying my attempts at speaking spanish to them, made up of hand gestures and some spanglish.
The ringleader of the boys was Mikey. He quickly became my favorite as he was so eager to talk to me and find out where I come from, why I’m in his village, who my friends were, what my name is, and lots of other questions. His conversation was most definitely my favorite part of the day. He was quick to show off the english vocabulary that he’d learned in school. It was really exciting for him to be able to tell me that he went to church, and he was a christian, and he had a mom and dad and a dog, and… every other english word he could spit out. He also invited me to his church, once he found out I was christian as well.
The saddest part of the day, for me, was when I had to tell my friend, Mikey, that I had to leave and probably wouldn’t be back to his village. He was very disappointed and I felt so awful leaving. Then as our bus pulled away he and his friends ran after the bus and Mikey screamed “Erika, te amo!” Meaning, “I love you”.