Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Trash City" Photographs

I came across a short article and photo essay recently, which seemed apropos of recent posts to this blog. It documented life for hundreds of human beings in a dump outside the capital of Mozambique. The link below will pull up the article and photos.

In one sense I'm hesitant to share the article and photos in this forum. We Westerners often have a stereotyped view of Africa, that it is just a continent of human misery and hopelessness. I have already posted several heartwrenching articles about the dire famine in Eastern Africa. I'm torn between wanting to raise awareness of the suffering of others in our human family, and not wanting to perpetuate these stereotypes.

Personally, I have a real love and admiration for Africa and Africans. I have never been to the continent, but have read books and seen documentaries. I am well aware of the beauty of the land and its diverse peoples. It is my dream to one day spend time in Africa in some capacity.

There is a lot of human suffering in Africa, but that is not the whole story of Africa. Human suffering is also occuring on every other continent. I've seen stories about people living in garbage dumps in Central America and India. People elsewhere--and in our own country--live by collecting what others throw away. It is a truly profound difference in the standard of living among the members of the human family.

The photographs in the link above are difficult to look at. You can see how filthy the people are, how their skin is not healthy, and how desperate they are to attend to just the most basic human needs like quieting a hungry stomach or fending off the cold. The images of children and the elderly are particularly difficult to see.

There were two parts of the article that most made an impression on me.

First, the photographer talked about the generosity of the people he encountered at this trash dump. He said, "Despite all the circumstances of how they live, they keep on showing their kindness and happiness and hospitality. We don't find these human qualities in many places in the world."

Later, in conclusion, the photograph said, "The life we waste everyday because we want a better one or because we are never satisfied with it, is the life that many wish and yearn to have and would give everything to have it."

I think these two points are very profound and worth pondering.

Luke 6:21, 25
Blessed are ye that hunger now, for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh.
Woe unto you that are full, for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now, for ye shall mourn and weep.

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