The dust parted as a mother pushed her pram through the dirt under her bare feet. It wasn’t a child that sat in the brown stained seat of the chair, it was her families survival. The clean water she had travelled to collect that morning. A surprisingly healthy dog trotted contentedly behind her, unaware of the unfairness in this world that was so evident to my eyes. He was seeing the world like a little child, just a big playground.
In place of swings, they had puddles. In place of toys, they had offcuts. In place of fun, they had fun. It’s essential not to forget that. Keeping these children healthy has to be the main focus, the second is allowing them to be just that, children.
It was day two of the House Build and I turned to the new house. Walls were up, wiring for the solar panels was going in and the group of mainly unqualified but dedicated builders were being led under the expert eye of the multiple local and foreign professionals who had dedicated their life to this cause.
Behind the bright blue wooden walls of the new house sat their current home. A stretched sign from the side of the road was tied down to boxes and discarded wooden panels. The same dust and dirt that had parted so easily beneath the mother’s feet minutes before were, in fact, their carpet.
Dominga peered through the hole in the wall intently, unaware of my presence. She cradled her youngest in one arm as she careful caressed the rough edges waiting to be sanded down. I glanced back again to the old home. There was no window for her to peer in or out of there. There was no floor. There was no hygiene. She smiled briefly to herself and turned away. This was to be her new home and for whatever individual reasons that these 40 people were here to build it I knew in that moment it didn’t matter. Her world was changing for the better.
Without action, everything stays the same.
The houses which sit among the dust and dirt of old agricultural land still hold the dangerous substances within from their years of farming work. Beyond the brown lies fields of green crops, broken by the odd sunflower trying to bring colour to a landscape surrounded by mountains. Those who have travelled for sometimes days stand on the side of the fields hoping to be employed for the following hours. The wage increase nearer the border of the USA for many was reason enough to make that journey.
The indigenous people of Mexico, like much of the rest of the world, don’t live in the fairest of conditions. With their own language and struggles, it’s opportunities like this which can empower them and provide much-needed essentials. That has never been more obvious to me than when visiting a migrant camp here in Mexico. Whilst providing long-term supplies of basics such as soap, toothpaste and rice to homes that were essentially cattle sheds a noise broke through the barking dogs.
A young boy was playing the recorder behind one of these walls. It was a stark contrast to my Year 2 recorder recitals in a warm classroom wearing a clean school uniform. That’s the true meaning of luck to me, the country and opportunities I was born into.