Today we left early with a couple of bags of food to share lunch with a group of displaced families at their farm near the town of Piojó. Things didn’t work out for us to sit in on a visit with the mayor as planned, but we did make the somewhat strenuous trip up and down the hills to the communal farm.
These families have been there for about a year now, and they have done a lot of work to establish themselves. They have rudimentary houses and cooking spaces, but they are in a tight spot waiting for the land to be officially theirs. The current owner is very supportive and patient, but the process of arranging for the purchase (through the government assistance program for the displaced) is convoluted, with plenty of hoops to jump through and the constant fear (because of known cases) that something might come up to dash their hopes and force them to start over—again.
The other difficulty the families are experiencing is related to the climate. They had a poor crop last year because of too much rain, but now they’ve been waiting since late November to see more than short-lived drizzle. While they wait to be able to plant and grow a new crop, they have limited access to food to sustain themselves day by day.
It has been an emotional day for me:
the excitement of going on an excursion;
the joy of seeing familiar faces;
the uncertainty of riding a horse for the second time in my life,
and sympathy for the poor mare who had to carry my out of shape self;
the thrill of the first glimpse of a place I’ve heard so much about
—a place that holds so much hope for these families and for the church that accompanies them;
the delight of playing and laughing and singing with small children;
the awkwardness of being the guest with such marked difference in wealth and position;
the miracle of making connections in spite of that disconcerting reality;
the sorrow of hearing about hunger and desperate hope for rain;
the warmth of generous hospitality;
the hope of things working together for good for these hard-working families.
At the end of the day I am weary from the heat and physical exertion, but I feel a deep sense of gratitude and renewed purpose.