Monday, May 28, 2012

The "Andador"


The Andador in San Cristobal...actually there are two "andadores" that run perpendicular to each other. The word "andar" means "to walk," and therefore, these are two roads for pedestrians only. Along the Andador, there are shops, restaurants, cafes, street vendors...and unfortunately beggars.

We have been considering how to respond to the constant presence of vendors and beggars. Do we buy their nicknacks, bracelets, shawls, or food? If so, how often? Or, from how many each day? Do we set a daily amount that we can buy or give away? Or, maybe the question is, to whom do we give or not give? It's really a complex issue.

Just look at this little girl. She can't be any older than our Ellie. She is carrying her little brother on her back, with her basket of items to sell. Makes you wonder where her Mom and Dad are...

Once we stopped and decided to buy something, suddenly we were descended upon by a whole horde of vendors! (Actually, the one with the purple shawl is the little girl's Mom. And the little girl told her to go was her sale.)

This little girl...she is only one of the many who walk the streets day in and day out.

Today while I was out, walking on the andador, I saw another little girl. She sells small, clay animals in her little basket. We see her just about every time we walk the andador. Her words are always the same, "Buy one!" And we've always responded, "no, thankyou." She will repeat her demand a few more times as she gets in our personal space, and then change her demand to, "Give me a peso!" She is maybe 6 years old. Today she was accompanied by a smaller boy. I scrambled today to do something different. What were my options? Buy an animal. Give her a peso. Tell her to go away.

"I know you. I see you here often. What's your name?" I asked.
"Give me a peso!" she replied.
"What's your name?" I repeated.
"Give me a peso!"
"What's your name?"
"Why do want to know my name? Give me a peso!"
"You want me to give you a peso. I want you to give me your name. Then, I'll give you a peso," I said.
"I'm Carlos!" her companion quickly offered.  And I gave him a peso.
"I'm Marta. Now give me a peso," she said.

Today, I pray for Marta and Carlos, by name. I pray that I will see them again, and that God will give me wisdom to begin a friendship with these two little children. I pray that I can share the Hope that comes from knowing our Lord and Savior. I pray that God will change their lives so that 30 years from now, Marta is not sending out her little girl to beg on the streets. I pray that Marta and Carlos will accept the one true God.

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