I have had a fascination for lines of laundry since I started traveling. Not sure whether I am just a bit obsessed or crazy but it just always shows where in the world I am and what life is like. Here the children only have 1 or (if they are lucky) 2 sets of clothing and as it’s really cold these days in the desert, it takes more than a day to dry 1 set (on a barbed wired fence). Most of them only wear pajamas because those were distributed when they arrived here. They did not have time to pack their wardrobes because they had to flee quickly. The kids told me yesterday how they don’t want to go to school because they are too embarrassed to go in their dirty clothes. Plus, they are cold so they are hesitant to leave their tents. Can you imagine? I never had to worry about these things. I was only reluctant to get out of the hot shower into a cold bathroom. I actually still do, here…Crazy differences.
Meet my new inspirators: Kevin (middle) and Stephen (right). World-improvers pur sang. We met on Kevin’s 25th birthday over a week ago. I fell right with my nose in the butter, as we would say in Dutch (; In the middle of the Belizean jungle I met my kind of people: conscious people with the wish, need and determination to make the world a better place. Kevin works as a counsellor with HIV-patients for the National HIV Programme, Ministry of Health, Belize. He works in a clinic in Belize City and goes out into the rural areas to do HIV outreach work: giving information, free HIV-testing and helping patients to cope with their life-long-struggle of HIV or AIDS. His friend Stephen should have ‘NGO’ as his middle name. He has worked for several in the past and is a member of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights as we speak, but together with Kevin also just founded the Belize Youth Empowerment for Change. With this organisation they are improving the chances and opportunities for the youngsters in Belize. Everyone knows Belize has amazing beaches and reefs, but on the other side of the beauty, there’s loads of challenges here: discrimination based on gender or sexual identity, crime-related-pressure, early sexual advancement, physical and emotional abuse and racism. Stephen and Keving help out wherever possible and give the young Belizeans a voice. I am telling you, these guys are making the world a better place and I wish you could all meet them in person. And guys, just so you know, the world already ís a better place with you in it. Mesi & Damou!
“My name is Juan Carlos, I am 12 years old. I go to school from 8AM till 2PM and then start working as a shoe polisher. I want to become an artist and need money to be able to go to college when I am older. It is my dream to become a painter. I don’t want to be in the picture alone, but you can take one together with my friend.I just polished his shoes. He is an amazing guitar-player and dreams of traveling to Europe to play in the Concert Halls there.”
“We are on our way to Houston, Texas. We will have to spend 16 days on busses to get there, but that’s fine because we have a lot of fun together, especially if we talk about or with la chica’s on the bus! Do you have a boyfriend? You are too tall for us! We will try to get jobs in the United States to have a better future. It’s our first time so we are really excited!”
“My name is Ashwani. I am disabled: only physically. I am spastic which makes it hard to talk and people think I am stupid. I am not. I sell apples on the street, everyday, and with that money I can take care of myself and my family. My parents are too old to work. I want to make them happy. My brother is also abnormal, but way worse than I am. It’s in his brain too and he always feels sick. So I am taking care of them all. I’d be pleased if you could buy my apples. And even if you don’t, I will greet you happily every time you pass me by.”
“The only difference between your Catholic and our Muslim belief is that Allah is our messenger instead of a God. We are teachers too, in English and Computer Science. We have an arranged marriage like almost everyone else in India. It is often very difficult, but we think love marriages and love relationships are difficult too, right? Can we take a selfie? We can not post pictures of ourselves on Facebook because we are not allowed to expose ourselves. You can post it but please don’t tag us. We will keep our picture as a sweet memory of our talk.”