The Fear of Losing the Feeling

Kindergarten Boys in La Carpio

Kindergarten Boys in La Carpio pose for a quick photo before heading back to class.

My mind is flooded with thoughts. Completely inspired by this trip, we all thirst to do more. We handle it in different ways.

It’s been a few days and I still find myself bursting out in to tears at inopportune moments. At a busy toy store in Miami, I began to have a full-blown panic attack seeing all of the children pulling and pushing at their parents. Crying and wailing, they begged for plastic barrettes, Hello Kitty wallets, and the like. I kneeled down to inspect a set of hairpins that caught my eye. My curiosity quickly turned to introspection. My thoughts flew at warp speed. Visions of the little girls in La Carpio mobbing me as I ran out the locked gate to the school quickly flashed before my eyes. They weren’t mobbing me for the box of stickers and toys I was handing out. They weren’t squealing at me in Spanish with tears in their eyes. They were smiling and lining up to simply give me a hug and a kiss.

“Te Amo!!!!”, each of them belted at me before they stepped aside to let the next little one have their chance. Once I realized that all they wanted was a chance to show love and gratitude, I hugged one little girl longer. I will never forget what she looked like despite the throngs of children we met and she will never know how much she changed me.

It was on that last day in La Carpio when I realized something. I did not see these children nor any of the citizens of La Carpio as poor. When I use that word, I mean it in the sense of impoverished or with lack of money. I saw them as rich, even lucky, to be so full of love despite living lives which most Americans would find unacceptable.

Now I am not trying to paint a pretty picture of what is still (essentially) a slum rife with problems. However, the citizens of La Carpio have heart. They work hard. They do not give up even under the most dire of circumstances, and they show respect and gratitude in ways I have never experienced before.

They watch each other’s backs. On many occasions I witnessed older boys take the younger ones under their wings, blood brothers or not, to make sure that the little ones did not get lost in the shuffle. The older boys helped the younger get shoes, toys, and even pose for photos. It was amazing to see. They lean on each other. They know that despite volunteer groups coming in to help them build and grow, that all they have is each other. And Gail Nystrom, of course. She is the humble, brazen unspoken hero of La Carpio. She is another blog post or ten entirely and I will be telling you more about this amazing woman soon.

Like I said, so many things to process and share with the world…

Flash back to Miami. I lost my breath at the toy store and began to feel the tears well up. I shoved my way out of the store and through the thickening crowd in a panicked haze. I grabbed Trenton and told him that we had to leave. Now.

What causes these overwhelming moments? It’s not my first time witnessing poverty. I lived it at one point. It’s the fear of losing that feeling. It’s the fear of forgetting of how those hugs made you feel, of not being able to fully explain it to your friends when you get home, or of losing the motivation to give as you must return to your day-to-day.

It’s the fear of forgetting how much you want to help. For that week in Costa Rica, a bus full of strangers stood still in their lives. Together they made something big happen, and in return they brought home bigger things in their hearts than they could have ever imagined.

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To donate to the Costa Rica Humanitarian Foundation, please click here. A permanent link is now at the top of the blog.

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    • jamielynndespres
    • August 4th, 2011

    Thanks for reading! @Rachel, yes! Even if it is for a short time, it is a wonderful feeling. Thanks Emily. I hope to do more and will be in touch soon 🙂

  1. I love this post. 🙂 Soles4Souls appreciates you and all you did on your trip. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. I get it! Recently went to Africa with Soles4Souls and… I get the sob/panic factor. There are those of us who can and those of us who do. Even if it was for only a few short moments it time…to people who you may never see ever again isn’t it a wonderful feeling to love and give hope.

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