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Red. It’s the color of Valentine’s Day hearts. It’s also the color of the heart positioned on Rigoberto’s packet. It means that he has been waiting more than 6 months for a sponsor. 335 days as of this date.

Red is also the color of this little boy’s shock of hair. It sets him apart from so many children in Mexico. In some cases, red hair is a sign of malnutrition because it means the body isn’t healthy. There aren’t enough nutrients in his or her body, so hair becomes brittle and lacks color.

http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/child-biography.htm?needKey=ME9130191

Red can be the color of marbles or other schoolyard balls that he likes to play with at the Compassion Center and at his school.

Red are the A’s, B’s, and C’s that he gets on his homework at school. He does well in school. Not above and not below, but average grades. This community needs further support in employment opportunities, public services, and educational motivation for its children.

Red is the color of the adobe walls that frame the house where he lives with his mom and dad. The floors are cement and the roof is tile. A family in this area typically makes $102 per month. That’s an average of $3 a day. His dad is a farmer. Most people in this village have no employment opportunities at all.

Red is the color of Jesus’ words in Rigoberto’s Bible. Rigoberto goes to Bible classes through Compassion’s center. He learns about the love of Jesus. He learns about the words that Jesus spoke about children. He is taught by loving staff members at the Compassion center who know his name.

Red. It will be a red-letter day on the day he finds out he has a sponsor.

 

 

 

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Just over a week ago, I was standing on the top of a building. I tried to take it in. Each day felt like a thousand new experiences as I met wonderful people, as I tried to absorb what living in Mexico is like.

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Omar explained that if you are dark-skinned, you experience racism, abuse, and isolation. Yes, even in Mexico where the majority of people are the same complexion.

Omar went on to say that if one is indigenous, that the treatment becomes worse. You are “less-than.” 

For children, it is worse. For girls, even much more-so.

4 million in Chiapas state live below the poverty-line. Many of these children are not going to school. Instead, they work alongside their families trying to scrape by. They make bricks. They pick coffee beans. Some are indentured servants – slaves – trying to work off the debt of something like 400-600 dollars. They make such meager earnings that they will never be able to repay the loan, plus interest.

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They pick coffee beans like this one in the photo. They roast it and sell it.

But it wouldn’t be sold at a “fair trade” value because these are children. These are the poorest of the poor that try to exist in a world that has been unfair for years and years.

Because they are indigenous. Because they are not part of the “elite” in Mexico.

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This 11-year-old boy and I made friends from the start. He attends a Compassion Child Development Center known as Sc’uxul yo’tan Cristo Student Center (ME-983). I thought his name was Ryan, but he was all smiles.

He lives in a jungle community and he helps his father pick coffee beans. I am not saying that Ryan is some sort of indentured servant, nor is his father. He attends school. He also attends the Compassion program at least 6-8 hours per week. Most of the adults in the area work on plantations – agriculture such as corn, coffee beans, plantains, and other fruits or vegetables that can be grown in this region. They make around $128 per month based on what they are able to bring in. If there is a drought, they make nothing. If someone is sick, they make nothing.

Compassion is working in the community to ensure that the children learn about Jesus and have a hope for their future. They provide children with Bible classes, medical checkups, hygiene and health education, sports, community service opportunities, home visits, school supplies (such as uniforms or shoes as well as notebooks and pens and fees for books), tutoring and homework supervision, reading workshops, and they celebrate with the children – birthdays, and academic reinforcement.

This isn’t a “Compassion” program but what the church is doing in the community. It is local believers, local church workers who work with these children. They have grown up in the area. They know these children by name. They know their parents, their siblings, and their home situations. They provide counseling for the parents and guardians of the children.

So, I see a lot of good being done in this community and others like it.

I just continue to wonder about “fair trade” and what it all means. Are these organizations that arrange “fair trade” really helping in communities like this? Communities where kids are working after school so that their families can eat? 

For some reason, the arrangement of fair trade is suddenly bothering me. I hear people in my circle say “I only buy fair trade.”  And to me, it sounds snooty. It reminds me that we can’t really know all of the situations.

Are “fair trade” organizations truly helping? Or are they just creating a system that throws some impoverished communities into deeper desperation?

I don’t have the answers. From what I read about fair trade, I do believe that they are beneficial. Organizations like FairTrade USA and Buy Well Coffee are amongst some of the companies I have bought from in the past.

I tried to explain this to a coworker who looked at me as though I had gone mad. Of course fair trade is fair!

Yet, when I look into the face of the 11-year-old who chased me around/I chased around the trees in his father’s farm, who I picked coffee beans with, and smiled, I also wondered if we all start purchasing from these ‘fair trade” places, if we are pushing them right out of the business world.

I just worry, I suppose.

And yet, if God has his eye on the sparrow, then His eyes are lovingly watching over this community.

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3sYBeqGpZE

While we were in Mexico, we had some great worship songs. But what we didn’t count on is how difficult it might be to translate some of them or to teach some of them.

I heard one of the teachers singing Alabare and was so excited. I knew the chorus from singing it when I was in Peru with the Kings, CC, David and Janet M.

So, I asked them to sing it and I tried to sing along. I really like this song and resolved to try to learn it much better. It really helped to have a video AND to know what the words mean.

The chorus is really catchy and pretty easy to remember.
Alabaré Alabaré
Alabaré Alabaré
Alabaré a mi Señor x2

(Praise, Praise, Praise, Praise, Praise the Lord)

Juan vio el numero
De los redimidos
Y todos alababan
Al Señor
Unos Cantaban
Otros Oraban
Y todos alababan
Al Señor

(John saw the number of the redeemed
And all praised the Lord
Some sang, others prayed and all praised the Lord)

[chorus]

Todos Unidos
Alegres Cantamos
Glorias Y alabanzas
Al Señor
Gloria al Padre
Gloria al Hijo
Y Gloria al Espiritu de Amor
[chorus]

(All united
Singing Joy
Glory and Praises
to the Lord
Glory to the Father
Glory to the Son
And Glory to the Spirit of Love)

Oh and if you want more songs – we had such fun with
Yo Tengo Gozo (I’ve got the Joy) and going back and forth with English and Spanish of Jesus Loves Me