In mid-March, the Global Education class from West Vancouver Secondary School took a trip to the poorest country in Central America- Nicaragua. While there, they were exposed to the stark reality of the meaning of the phrase ‘to struggle for survival’. It is this struggle that shows the exceptional strength of the human spirit- when it seems people should have no choice but to give up, they continue to fight to succeed.
Traveling through the dump in the nation capital of Managua was a powerful experience. After getting past the mountains of burning garbage producing almost impenetrable smog, the Global Education class was met by the sight of emaciated children and dogs living in houses built from trash. The livelihood of most people in the dump was to search through the garbage and clean it and try to either use it or resell it. The garbage also provided many of their meals. But there are always opportunities to fight even in the grimmest of circumstances. The opportunity for some children came in the form of old laptops they would either find or get donated through the volunteer organization Podcasts for Peace. With these laptops, they would make their own podcasts and would tell their stories online to fight against the social injustices they faced on a daily basis. The story the Global Education class heard while visiting the dump was of a young girl abandoned by her parents at the age of six. For most of her life she had survived as many of the others did: by scrounging through the garbage which was also her home. Because she was the elder sibling, she also had to take care of her younger brother. To add to the many health problems associated with living in that environment, the public water in their district would be shut off during the day. This meant that they had to keep their water in large barrels which would allow malaria-carrying mosquitoes to breed. This little girl and other children from the area had taken it upon themselves to publicly contact their local politician through their podcasts to request that their water supply be consistent with the rest of the city. While impoverished, they argued, they retain the same basic rights as citizens from other districts.
These children are not content to merely survive; they are fighting for equality and striving to improve their lives, and the lives of those in their community. The tenacity in those children is the very best quality humanity has to offer; each and every person reading this should draw inspiration from them. They knew this. And that is why their stories must be shared.
Joshua Baker, Global Education student at West Vancouver Secondary School, IPS Alumni (Class of 2009)