Blog Action Day 2008

It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.

I believe that is true, literally and… metaphorically.

I want to share something with you. It is related to 'birds' with not so fine feathers (to the eyes of some).

I met these 'birds' a couple of years ago. Broken, ill, dirty. Ignored by 'finer' ones until they became invisible.

The birds of my story are very, very young. They have beautiful souls and hearts, talents that nobody thought they could have, and dreams, like any other bird their age. Some of them have broken wings, and others live in a cage.

My birds are as real as you and me. They spend their youth working. They work on the streets, selling flowers, candy, and cigarettes, to help their families and be able to eat. Most evenings and nights they go out and walk around shopping centers, restaurants, discos, wherever they can find people having the fun they can't have.

Angel (15), Pamela (14), Sandra (13), Flor (12), Francis (11), Alicia (8), Diego (4). They are just a few of the ones I had the pleasure to spend every Saturday with for a year (a couple of years ago, before I moved abroad).

More than 2 million kids and teens between 6 and 17 years old are forced to work in Peru. The work varies from shoe shining, selling products, agriculture with their family members, to slavery in mines and sex tourism.

Departments (states) like Huancavelica, Huanuco and Puno, where extreme poverty is higher, the percentage of working kids and teens between 6 and 17 years old is 96%, 94% and 92% respectively.

My experience with the ones I met was heartbreaking but also rewarding. I met amazing kids with unbelievable strength and the will to learn and become better people in the future.

We were a few crazy friends (ages 17 to 28, guess who the oldie was…), trying to take their mind away from the cold and danger of the streets for a few hours a week, teaching them handcrafts, playing with them, giving them some food and love along the way.

Sad news when we had to stop, the meeting place was closed to build something that was profitable for the owners, a few of us had to move away, and the rest couldn't continue without a place and on their own (everything came from either our pockets or friends and family who supported our 'cause')

I sometimes run into these birds, they chirp around calling my name, hugging me and asking (after almost 2 years), when are we going to start again. It's heartbreaking to tell them that we can't. You can tell they get a bit sad, but then they start making jokes and laugh until they spot a tourist or a happy couple and fly away with their flowers and their candy trying to sell enough to buy the next morning's breakfast.

I met some fine birds, with not so fine feathers.

If you are curious about what we used to do, visit my old blog here.


Sekhar said...

Nice to hear that you involve in these good deeds. Keep it up :)

Meggie said...

Beautiful analogy and lovely story, Mel!

Q said...

Dear Mel,
I knew I loved you when we first met. Now I know why. Your heart is so big and you see the beauty in the children.
May you continue to be blessed.
You have blessed me this morning with your love.
These kids have beautiful feathers...

Mary said...

Mel, I'm so glad to hear from you. You are obviously working hard and lending your heart to so many feathered friends. Oh, my.

I admire your spirit and loving care. This world needs more Mels!

Thanks for stopping by and rattling my cage. I've been out of touch in the blog world much lately...


Gallicissa said...

Great post, Mel.
I too like your analogy. I hope they will grow up to be good persons.

I hope you are enjoying the bird book.

Chrisss said...

I wish I could so something for these kids too. Maybe someday soon you'll find another place. Have a great weekend.

Ruth said...

Thanks for reminding us about these children. I admire your efforts to reach out to them. How easy for those in first world countries to ignore their suffering.

Mel said...

Hello guys,

This was one of those very intense and life shaping experiences. Note that I don't say 'life changing' because I was always aware of the limitations within my country, but, it did shape my heart and my sould in a better way.

I believe that we can all make a difference, if we have friends to rely on, a bit of imagination and hard work. We can do GOOD.



T.R. said...

This is a beautiful testament to the beautiful people of your country - some of the kindest and most gracious people in the world. I've just returned from Peru as well as working with a barrio in Nicaragua some weeks before. The juxtaposition of children living and struggling in poverty and the collapse of the financial system due to overt greed is tragic, heart-wrenching and anger-inducing. So many of us have become calloused to the reality of the world. We should use our blogs to never let people forget the real truths. Beautiful post!

Mel said...

Hola T.R.
Thank you for your kind words. This is an amazing country, filled with natural beauty and great people.
I believe we could do much, we could do good, if only we would focus on the right stuff.
I agree with you, sometimes when you don't 'see' it, you just forget or feel that whatever happens so far away is almost unreal.