We drove along the highway in a red pick-up. I was scrunched onto my husband's lap, who was squeezed in next to the lawyer, who was squeezed in next to the driver. Every now and then I ran my little pink sweat-towel over the windshield and the side window to clear the view. Our sister pastor, our son and my best friend's husband were having a bathing experience in the back of the truck, as the rain tumbled from the dark gray sky.
We were determined to get a shipping container out of customs, and this involved driving documents from one place to another, in the rain.
We drove past the Hipermall...a monstrosity of a mall with high-priced stores. One time I asked a friend if anyone ever shops there. She said, "Sure, we go there. We window-shop."
We came around a curved off-ramp which encircled a small piece of land - one fourth of the clover-leaf pattern at an expressway interchange. The rain had let up, so we had a clear view of the community which had been established on this piece of clover-leaf. Small homes made of plastic, and cardboard and scrap metal crowded together with tiny dirt paths between them. No electricity. No sewers. No water. In the shadow of the Hipermall, people were living in the most desperate situation.
We drove slowly around the curve, as did the line of cars ahead of us and behind us. Suddenly a bright celeste blue umbrella emerged from between the cars. It was held by a little boy who was maybe 4 or 5 or 6 years old. He was naked, darting among the cars with his hand extended, begging for money. I heard our pastor's voice, "Where is your mommy? Go home. Go home to your mommy."
The lawyer said, "He's not lost. The parents are desperate. They sent him out to beg. They think he will get money because he is small and naked. It's not right."
This happened a long time ago, yet that little boy with the blue umbrella lives inside my head, and the desperation of parents who would send their child out naked onto the expressway to beg weighs heavy on my heart. It's not right.
As the rain lets up in El Salvador, many are desperate for food. May the world respond with immediate help and long-term support so that no mother will be tempted to send her little one out to beg. Some have so much. Many have so little. It's not right.