Luis led us up the stairs towards his family home. When I say he led us up stairs, I mean, he led us on a twenty-minute climb up stairs, rocks, make-shift stairs and gravel. It was not for the faint of heart. The climb led us, of course, to the house at the top—although I would never call it a house, but more on that later.
Knowing what I know now about the family we were visiting, I am even more amazed at the climb and what this family must do to survive ever day. Every day, Luis’s mother goes down to get water for the family. She carries the water in a five-gallon bucket up the long steep climb. That water is used for everything and only lasts a day. She must do everything over again the next day. Just to get water. I can’t even begin to imagine all of the other trips that need to be made to get other things, never mind how she carries the baby.
How do I describe their living situation? A shack is too good. Looking at the structure reminded me of the forts that my brother and I used to make. We would use anything we could find. The walls were made with cardboard, plastic and bamboo. The floor was dirt and the roof was corrugated plastic. It was about 8 x 15 feet. It has one single bed, a few chairs, a card table, and a blanket as the door. Seven of them sleep in this place. No running water. No electricity.
Both the oldest son and the father work. They rent rickshaws that they use as taxis. They pull in about 7 dollars a day. That is not enough. They share one meal a day. One meal. One meal of rice with a few vegetables. I can’t imagine the hunger pains. I can’t imagine watching the children go hungry and know that you cannot feed them. Honestly, I don’t want to think about it.
I didn’t know what to say to this family. What hope could I give? Yes, the family can be saved by God. Yes, God will be with them. But those words seemed so hollow, especially from a rich American like me.
I know God provides. I know He does more than I can even begin to understand. I know He provided manna in the wilderness. I know God will give them abundantly.
What hope does the Gospel bring in this situation? What about the necessities of life like clean water, food or electricity?
Over the next few days I heard some answers to some of those questions. I learned how Compassion International is working with the churches to provide hope to children in extreme poverty. I began a relationship with a church that carries these burdens every day.
I came away with many questions about the people I met and more questions for myself. I came away with hope. Gospel hope. God can meet the needs of Luis and his family through churches and individuals.