Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Retail or Reality?

I've just returned from Guatemala, where some friends and I visited many of our Finding Freedom through Friendship mothers and their children. The purpose of the visit was to make sure that each family in our program has improved health indicators after receiving our daily meal donations, that each child who is eligible is in school, and that the houses we have built for our abandoned mothers have been properly constructed. We also talked to each mother about possible economic opportunities. As you can imagine, this is the hardest issue to resolve, since our clients live in communities with severely limited income resources. 
The villages that our clients live in are surrounded by beautiful and fertile fields, where abundant crops are grown, primarily for consumption in Guatemala City and abroad. 

Photo of crops taken with my iphone
Sylvia's dinner
We can't always make our home visits unannounced, but I prefer to do so. Just like in the states, a friend who comes to the door without prior notice finds the true ambiance of a household. Sylvia and her seven children did not expect us on our last night in Guatemala. She was just getting ready to feed her family when we appeared. The family's dinner consisted of you see on her stove. Bread and coffee. 

(Our budget doesn't allow us to send food to this family monthly.)
My life in the states requires that I jump back into my busy routine quickly when I return from Guatemala, which is why I found myself in a local shop in Kentucky today. My body was with my daughter but my heart was still in Sylvia's kitchen. Humanitarian concerns in Guatemala are not "trendy" in the retail world, so I was surprised to see this purse hanging on the rack.
The price on this item was $50. I have no idea what the #15 means, but I do know that for the cost of this sack purse for sale in Kentucky, Sylvia's children could have eaten for a week in Guatemala.

Sylvia won't see any results of the profit from this retail chain's sales of this item. I would like to think that this popular retail outlet is funding food for Guatemala's families with the sales of this and similar items. If they are, it is not indicated in their store or on their web site. 

The extra set of eyes was an unintended edit, but seemed appropriate

The retail store was beautiful, but the reality in Guatemala, where I visited too many kitchens without food, is not so attractive.The United Nations World Food Programme estimates that 50% of Guatemala's indigenous children live with chronic hunger, with Guatemala ranking fourth in the world for pediatric malnutrition. (http://www.wfp.org/countries/guatemala)