Up and down we went, away from Mexico City, directing ourselves South East. We spent two days traveling through the final stretch of the Sierra Madres before landing in Cordoba, Vera Cruz. In between, a single night was spent in Puebla where we found an excellent seafood restaurant.
Regardless of being in one of Mexico’s most dangerous states, there were two reasons for traveling to Cordoba. One, our new carburetor jets were scheduled for delivery, via FedEx, on the 8th of December. Two, Casa Hogar, an orphanage was there. Now, there are many orphanages in Mexico, but this was the same one Mike Haley (founder of WorldRidersFoundation) made a stop on his way south. Although we were not able to stay at the orphanage because of security reasons, we did spend a lot of time with Juan (one of the directors) and the kids there.
Girls Dorm that sleeps 30
Just over sixty children live at Casa Hogar. The genders are split between two dorms, ages ranging from <1 to 20. The dorms are sectioned off with walls seemingly dividing the dorm into “rooms”, each room sleeping 2-3 persons. A dorm shares four toilets (of which only one was in working order) and four showers. The orphanage sits on approximately three acres where they have fruit trees and some vegetables and raise chickens and pigs. Unfortunately, they must sell all their meat products and are not able to consume it themselves. Their diet consists of rice, beans, other vegetables and tortillas. Meat is expensive, and they can’t afford to provide it as an option except on special occasions.
The minimum wage in Mexico is 10 pesos per hour or 80-90 pesos for a full day’s work. Evidently, this is what attracted big business. If we divide a week’s salary by the current exchange rate, a low-income worker in Mexico takes home roughly $25.00 American dollars for a whole week’s work. We don’t think anyone, even where the cost of living is cheaper, could survive on said wages, let alone provide for a family. As result, it makes it extremely difficult to maintain a well-rounded diet and the people at the orphanage sell what the need to in order to provide for the whole. Casa Hogar has found it challenging the last couple years after the passing of a church leader from California that use to help supplement their costs.
The grounds at the orphanage are well kept, each person having a job or something to add to the group. They see the 70+ (children, directors and their immediate relatives) as one giant family and are committed to one another. Although it seems the place would be a nightmare for an introvert, with no possibility for personal space, individuals seem to be happy with what they have.
They invited us into their lives and had nothing to hide. Each of them looking for a little personal attention, something that we also imagine is hard to find in a place like this. We did the best we could by communicating with the few words we know and joining in activities like retuning our motorcycles.
Getting some help on our retune
This experience was not a surprise to us. We have seen places and living conditions like this before in Southeast Asia, and know there are other places even worse off. However, it is such an AWESOME reminder of the privilege we were granted by being born somewhere like Des Moines, Iowa. Simply luck. We did nothing to be granted the life we received. Our parents provided those things, yet they had good paying jobs, prior to which, they had decent childhoods.
Everything in both our lives (Casa Hogar and Seth & I) is completely relative to the repercussions of choices made by people in lives prior. We have some say in how our own life will turn out, but for people in places like Casa Hogar, this way of life perpetuates itself through generations because of compounding impoverishment. The same goes conversely for well off societies like the USA (Yet, with a dwindling middle class, we might be on our way as well). If they could see the way we live they might feel destitute, and to be completely honest, we are happy they don’t know. There is starch contrast between our societies, and yet the difference lies not in the people, for we are the same.
We found our minds wondering, after, our feet slipped into their shoes and felt like it could’ve been our size. What do we do? What can we do? We wanted to help, yet we knew they were just one of hundreds in Mexico alone. Is it worth helping? Will it really make any kind of difference? What does it really matter?
We discussed this for a night or two, knowing we are on a tight budget, yet we couldn’t shake the empathy. This was real, we were real, and they were real, and even a little difference is a real difference. We were afforded the opportunity to go on an adventure, but now we presented with a real problem. We knew, no matter how small it looked in the big picture, we could enact real positive change for the people at Casa Hogar.
Talking with Juan and the kids, we decided they knew best on what we could do to help. It was elected that the most positive change for the $250.00 we had available was to erect an antenna that would provide internet to the orphanage. We made sure that there were computers that could be utilized once the internet was up and running, three were found. The idea for the internet was that it would give the kids the ability to learn, possibly create an internet business(s), and reach out to others for funding opportunities. Our $250.00 could have fed everyone hamburger for two weeks, yet they elected for the possibility for more opportunity. It was very cool to be a part of this and we are happy with the changes we had the privilege to provide.
Thank you for reading our blog. We understand issues like this don’t often leave good feelings in one’s conscience mind, and they shouldn’t. However, we feel it is important to share, and hope, if you feel this way, you share too.