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Live the present moment as a wonderful gift…

Bertha Lilian Barrera Ramírez, CND

No two days are the same. “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift,” as Eleanor Roosevelt said. Two days ago, as I do almost once a month, I went to the municipal garbage dump of Santa Barbara. It is worth mentioning that we pay for garbage collection, but we do not have this service.

Since my first visit to the garbage dump, I am always deeply shocked to see how people live off garbage, but this day was different... I cannot describe the impact it had on me. You may be wondering why, if it is the same place, what was different? The difference is perhaps that the first time I went my eyes did not see this reality as painfully as I experienced it this time. Maybe because that first time it was men doing the work. I say it honestly: when I remember this moment the image comes to me immediately, and my heart is still broken... and crying.

That day, when I arrived, some children were unloading the garbage from the back of the pickup truck and my attention was immediately drawn to a young woman who was in the middle of the garbage dump, in the ravine where she was taking something out. The ground seemed very loose, and I could see her slipping down... I observed her with astonishment and compassion, and I thought: How is it possible that people live like this?

As I write this text, I ask the Lord to not let me begin to perceive this as normal, because everyone has the right to live with dignity. When I mentioned this to the person who accompanied me, he told me, “That is how it is Lilian, what some people no longer use may be valuable for these people. Some people can live with someone else's garbage.” He said this to try to console me a little when he saw how indignant I was. I keep hearing his words, and I say to myself that perhaps he is right. However, it also leads me to reflect on how many things I hang on to? Yes, sometimes I think I might use them again and I don’t realize that I have accumulated things that could be useful to these people.

Try to find where the girl is because when I saw the picture, it was not easy for me to find her. She is lost in the garbage.

As I was backing up, I saw in the rear-view mirror another somewhat shocking image, a small child. Speechless, I took a deep breath, then lowered the car window to thank the three children who had helped.

On my way back home, I was thinking how many biosafety standards campaigns the media does. And when you see this reality you wonder how the women, men, teenagers, and children who work here survive?

Here I am worrying about putting gel or alcohol on my hands and wearing a double mask so that I do not catch the virus... These people cannot even think about buying gloves to protect their hands, much less, buying masks. Their biggest concern is not catching COVID, it’s finding some scrap metal to sell to help support their families.

Every day your Creator allows you to contemplate what the eyes of your heart want to see...

The landscape of the mountain where the garbage dump is located is beautiful. And the sunsets in Santa Barbara are breathtaking...

Do not miss a single detail, for God speaks to you through smallest details.


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