Elizabeth Lambert

A Community of Service Interim 2010
Children’s Shelter, Managua, Nicaragua


The day before our trip to the Laguna de Apoyo, we visited one of the dumps in Managua. Our trip to the dump was, without doubt, one of the most incomprehensible moments of my life. It was, and still is, unbelievable that human beings are forced to live in such a humiliating and degrading fashion. As we stood on the top of a mountain of trash, looking out over endless mounds of rubble and trash, the smell of rotting waste and smoke wafting toward us, it looked as if it were the end of the world. People lived at this place. This was their home.

I came ways from the dump shocked, indignant and mostly confused. How could such a place as the dump still exist if people outside were aware of it? Why was I was I a person of privilege and not a person living in the dump? Will the people living in the dump ever know anything more than their current circumstances? The next day offered great contrasts to Managua’s dump. We took a trip to Laguna de Apoyo.

Despite being surrounded by the majestic mountains and puffy white clouds drifting through the azure sky, I couldn’t stop my wandering mind. I thought of the people living in other peoples’ waste. They might never be afforded the opportunity to see the beauty of their own country.

However restless my mind was, the stillness and tranquility of Laguna de Apoyo helped to pacify my worries and questions. That scene reminded me that however ugly the world can be, however much humans wrong each other, either intentionally or by turning a blind eye to those in desperate need, there is still beauty in the world. The orphanage workers and the group of people I was working with exemplified this beauty. They gave of themselves tirelessly, selflessly in order to try to fulfill what often seemed an impossible task of bettering the lives of other people. Despite struggles (with money, with the government, with complacency, among many others), they persevered.

During that moment at Laguna de Apoyo, I realized that though the world is not as it should be, there are still people trying to right the world’s wrongs and to make life better for others. This acknowledgement of hope was the most spiritual moment of my journey.