Some people can hardly meet the basic needs such as food, water, clothing, and a place to live; but yet how often do we stop to acknowledge this problem going on in the world around us? I believe I have a moral obligation to the poor because I have been blessed with more than enough and what I have been blessed with is meant to be shared with other people who are less fortunate than me. To begin, my understanding of moral obligation was presented to me through the Bible. There are many times mentioned in the Bible that tells of how people should help the poor.
The Bible is the foundation for everything I believe, including my moral obligation to those less fortunate than me. For example, the Bible says, “’If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you” (Leviticus 25:35 NIV). This means that when people see someone else become poor or someone who is already poor, people have an obligation to help the poor person out.
Another case in the Bible Jesus states, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV). In other words, when people serve others or meet the needs of others, God is glorified through that action; that act of service is as if someone did the service for God Himself. Serving others and meeting other people’s needs is what I believe people are called to do. With this in mind, I went to serve people in Mexico with my church youth group. The program was called “Babies in the Dump”. What this program was is any of the people in the youth group went to give food, clothing, and other items to people literally living in a dump in Mexico. The journey began as the youth group collected can goods, clothing, and even toys for the kids to take down to Mexico with us. After collecting these items for a couple of weeks we headed down to Mexico. Right before we got close to the border we stopped at a storage shed and picked up huge bags of beans and pasta. To take all the beans and pasta with us, we formed a line where we would pass the bags down from one person to another to put them in the vehicles we were driving to Mexico in.
I remember lifting those bags thinking that beans and pasta won’t be very heavy, but I was wrong, they were quite heavy weighing about 50 pounds. Lifting those bags seemed hard, but with all of us working together we ended up having some fun with the work. After loading up the vehicles we continued on our way to Mexico. As we drove in I could already see that the area wasn’t that nice. We went to a church building where we then unloaded the beans and pasta. When we finished unloading everything, we put the food into big bowls.
Once the food was in the bowls we scooped the food into bags so that we could hand the food out to the people in the dump we were about to go see. When we finished putting together the bags of food we loaded the food bags into a short bus that we would be riding to the dump in. we then stopped and had sack lunches, talked, sang, and laughed as we took a break from working. Little did I know the experience I was about to have. To continue, we arrived at the dump with in just a few minutes from when we left the church where we had filled the bags with food.
As we were driving into the dump I saw trash scattered everywhere around us, the dirt flying back behind us as we drove up this hill to get to the top of the dump, people walking along the side of the dirt road, and small shacks made of random sheets of metal. Seeing this setting made my heart sink knowing that this is where people are living. Mulroy in 1995 and Wilson in 1996 stated, “Over the past 50 years, people with low incomes have been increasingly concentrated and isolated in central cities characterized by deteriorated, unsafe housing.
These neighborhoods lack access to basic resources such as transportation, employment, health care, public safety, or education that adequately prepare people for employment” (quoted in Ewalt). I did know living conditions just across the border from us in the United States weren’t the best but I didn’t ever think that the living conditions would be as bad as they are. When we reached the top of the hill in the dump we saw this tiny church where we would put everything we were going to give the people living in the dump. The church was a one room building with simple concrete flooring and walls along with a small stage.
To us this building wasn’t really much, it was plain and small, but to the people in the dump the building was significant. We unpacked the food, clothes, and toys and set up the items in stations where the people could easily come in and find what they needed. We then began to pass out the items to the people who came into the tiny church. The people rushed around trying to find the best and the warmest clothing for themselves and their children. Seeing the people there and their need for clothing made me truly appreciate what I have.
The thing that struck me the hardest is that one of my friends told me what she saw as she tried giving the kids the toys we brought them; she saw the kids first turn down the toys because they didn’t want to miss out getting some food. Eventually they came back for the toys but they made sure they got food then some clothing before ever considering taking time to pick out a toy. This was so hard to see because in the United States I haven’t seen a kid be concerned about if they will have food to eat, they think of what new cool toy just came out that they want.
Kids should be able to just be kids where they can play and have fun, but unfortunately not every kid has that chance to simply be a kid. This made me realize even more than I knew before that we need to help out whoever we can and meet the needs of anyone who has needs to be met. After all the adults and kids went through taking what they needed we did end up getting to have some fun with those kids and the joy you could see radiate of their faces was amazing to me. The simple act of meeting their needs and getting to play with us made their day.
Seeing those smiles and hearing them laugh along with seeing the adults’ satisfaction of knowing they have food for their family and warm clothes was the most rewarding parts of the trip. All in all, after we left the dump I found a new appreciation for my home, clothes, and food. The trip there made me all the more grateful for what I have been blessed with in life. I mean I never realized how much even a nice hot shower meant to me until I saw how the people in the dump lived.