The Slums

Driving by the trashed allies in the slums of Colon, I caught a glimpse of some Panamanian children kicking around a plastic water bottle. Surrounding each other, the kids cheered in a frenzy each time a teammate made a goal into a trashcan.

Their dusty, oversized, raggedy clothes looked as though they had been passed down for many generations.

They all seemed so… happy.

I felt touched and saddened all at once.

Seeing abandoned homes and torn down schools, I noticed lawns covered in waste with grass in need of trimming, like a person in desperate need of a haircut.

Being blessed with the opportunity to attend a prominent high school and live a financially stable life, shouldn’t these children deserve the same? What sets me apart from them?

Thinking of the luxurious life given to me and how it patiently waited for me back in Michigan, I thought what did I do to deserve any of it? I was simply born into a different family at a different time.

Looking at all the opportunities in my life, I realize not everyone‘s as fortunate as I am.

Seeing the families on the streets with eyes lit with excitement, I begin to wonder what their lives were like and what struggles they’ve overcome. I wonder if I would ever be strong enough to live through such poverty and still manage to have a smile. I wonder if my friends back home would care about the column I was going to write.

Am I the only one who goes through life without giving much thought to those suffering from poverty and famine? Reflecting on my experiences, I ultimately feel a rush of guilt for not being as thankful for my life as I should be when I know how much worse others have it.

My eyes have opened to a new reality that I’ve been sheltered from my entire life. I begin to question myself, is it possible to make a difference?

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