Sunday, June 28, 2015

The indigenous shame

This is Mike...
Poverty is not isolated to any one country but when you see the same groups of people being marginalized country after country it can really make you mad. The indigenous people of the Americas brought us wonders like Tikal, Machu Pichu, calendars more sophisticated than ours, chocolate, and so on. Some of their techniques on construction of aqueducts, pyramids and other monolithic structures still perplex modern science today. These peoples accomplished a lot over the millennia.
   Today, they are shunned as uneducated thieves in Central America. We have spoken with many people and they generally give the same warnings about the Native people, "Watch for pickpocketing! Keep an eye on your kids!" etc. We have found the Indigenous peoples in most of the countries we have visited to be sweet and humble with a desire to smile but are cautious as they don't want to be hurt. I wonder if the indigenous people issue the same warnings amongst themselves about being around us? So much is lost in translation but beautiful eyes usually tell the truth. Fact is, in Panama, today 80% of the indigenous populations live in poverty and 50% in extreme poverty (living on less than a dollar day). It is not just Panama, all the countries of Central America wear the badge of failure with how they deal with their native peoples.   
A mother doing chores in the morning with her child, sounds normal enough? Except this mommy lives on next to nothing a day. She has it good though, as she lives in a sturdy home made of metal once used for shipping items around the world.

I cannot convey how sweet these people are once they warm up.

As soon as we put the cameras away, kids started poking their heads out the window to see who drove up. Here are at least four tiny homes with many families in each home. These people are lucky as the coffee plantation most likely donated the building materials for their dwellings.

These folks are living along side a road known for some of the world's best coffee, fetching premium prices on international markets.

The amount of mosquitoes and biting insects here is unfathomable! To be honest, these people are probably happy to just have a dry home, many others have it worse. An easy way to help is to buy Fair Trade items which help the farmers more directly. These people just need a chance to succeed, they are such hard workers and have very stable families. They deserve better.  

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