Day 3: Amelia M.’s Reflections
Today I had the opportunity to learn how to make a coconut necklace which is sold for profit by a few of the “street boys” which Caminante works with. This was an opportunity for me to get a glimpse of part of their daily routine. Victor Manuel walked me through every step of the process and held my hands in order to show me what needed to be done since he does not speak English. I enjoyed having the opportunity to do this with him. All of the boys seemed to be perfectionists when it came to making this jewelry. They wanted it done just right. After the pendant for the necklace was complete the boys surprised us by telling us it was ours to keep. We will finish making our necklaces later.
Although some may see this as child labor, I did not. It seems as if Victor had the opportunity to choose he wouldn’t mind continuing doing what he does- making coconut jewelry. The shelter in which they use to make this jewelry serves as not only a place to work, but also as a safe haven for these boys. This small place is keeping these boys safe from the dangers which exist on the streets. It is allowing them to feel pride for their work. No one is forcing the boys to do this. Although it is not the greatest of all possible situations and opportunities for these boys it is better than shining shoes on the street. The relationship these boys have with Caminante has dramatically changed their lives. They may still be doing work, but it is done through a very committed organization. Julito, is not only an educator for these boys, but he is also a mentor and friend. He shows them respect and in return the boys show him respect. The boys were very excited to be able to make their jewelry with us.
Throughout my stay here I have noticed that not only are these boys hard workers, but the staff at our hotel seem to be working 24/7. I don’t think I have ever witnessed them not doing any work. It would make more sense that such a hard working group of society would be more economically stable. I will continue to learn about disparities while trying to understand why these problems exist.