My Experience on the 30 Hour Famine Study Tour

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Haley Stanley, high school student

haley stanleyIt is a country about the size of Massachusetts with roughly 6.3 million people. Beautiful mountains, active volcanoes, and lightning storms every night like clockwork, the country is absolutely stunning. The people are surrounded with gang violence and extreme poverty everywhere you turn, but among all of these tragic events, they have hope. For all these reasons, and many more, I have fallen in love with the country of El Salvador.

August 2, 2014—just a month ago—was the date everyone on the Study Tour team had been waiting for. Armed with a week’s worth of clothes and an open mind we were off to a whole new world. It wasn’t until the next day that we actually got to experience the country and culture firsthand.

Driving on the roads we saw barbed wire on almost every building to protect homes from gangs. This opened my eyes to the violence that happens on a daily basis.

Another common sight was seeing small houses made out of tin and other scrap. We saw a shopping mall almost identical to the ones you see in the United States; and right across the road was a community of houses made of tin scraps. I was so surprised by the contrast. I caught myself thinking about how challenging some of these lives must be compared to mine. But it wasn’t until we visited a World Vision sponsored child that I realized how easy my life is compared to others.

The sponsored child’s name was Patricia, and she was beautiful on the inside and out. We followed her up a rocky, narrow path to her house. On the way, I looked left and right and saw house after house right on top of each other, all made of any material that could be found. It broke my heart into pieces. We got to the top and there sat her family, full of smiles. We met her little brother, littler sister and her mom and learned that her dad was at work. He works as a corn famer but doesn’t sell the corn; it is solely used for food for their family. He also finds odd jobs now and again that pay five dollars a day! I thought back to what five dollars could buy them; it certainly didn’t seem like enough to provide for the whole family. Patricia began to tell us about her daily life and some of her struggles. She doesn’t have running water in her home so her and her family have to walk two hours to get their water every other day.

She showed us the pictures of her sponsor family and the letters they sent her. She begin to tell us about all the gifts she received from them that included a bed, enough money to buy a cow, and small gifts like hair bows, playing cards and pencils. The smile on her face was priceless when she was showing us her sponsor family. She told us that when she receives letters or gifts from her sponsor family it makes her feel so loved. After visiting her cows—which her family use for milk and income for the family—we were off to our next destination; but my thoughts were still with Patricia. At first, I felt so angry with myself, wondering why she has to live this way while I live in a 2-story house with five working sinks.  My life seemed too luxurious compared to Patricia’s everyday struggles.

How did she make it through the day?

Hope.

She had hope.

Even though her life was hard and her family did struggle to put food on the table, she didn’t let that get in the way of bigger picture. With the support of God and World Vision Sponsor Program she was free to dream big! She has an optimistic future of becoming a nurse and I truly believe that she will achieve that one day.

I look back on my trip and think of the many people I met. They could very easily have a ‘’woe as me’’ attitude about their lives. But instead, they lift their heads up high and say yes. Gang violence and poverty are problems, for sure; but with every problem comes a solution.  I am going to strive to have this type of optimism in my daily live and continue to support World Vision every chance I get. This trip has been life changing and I am so blessed to have gone.