By Rosemary Manarin
While in Mazatlan, Mexico where many Canadians and Americans flock for the winter months, my husband and I joined a church group that regularly makes hundreds of lunches and delivers them to extremely poor people who lived near the city dump and many who were right inside the dumpsite. There is no welfare in Mexico so many people sift through the garbage to look for recyclable items that will yield cash. About one hundred people lined up to receive the lunch and much needed water at the dump itself. The congregation in Mazatlan has become so involved with the people near the dump that they are now helping them build small schools there. We were heartened to see that us northerners were not simply basking in the lovely vacation sun all winter but had noticed with concern that many native residents were destitute and were stirred to action. Even in vacationland, it is apparent that the human spirit is alive with compassion.
And so, too, up here in Castlegar we try our best to support the Harvest Food Bank with its endeavours to help those in need by providing hampers and lunches and counselling. The church-run Sharing Dinner Pot serves its hearty meals weekly and St. David’s Thrift Shop offers much for those on low income. Recently, advocates of raising our minimum wage have been getting the attention of politicians.
Next month I am going on a Habitat for Humanity build. This will be my third time going to Guatemala to help build a house for a family there. I’m hooked. Now retired, it has become my favourite type of holiday in winter. This kind of trip satisfies my urge for exploring our world while at the same time doing something useful for those less fortunate than us. Habitat for Humanity offers a family a leg up in owning their own home. Through H4H, applicants get a 0 per cent interest rate on their mortgage. Once families are in a better position as homeowners, they in turn, are then able to benefit their communities, so the positive assistance has a spin-out effect.
There are other important ways to make a difference, however, to speak out.
From your chair or desk at home, you who patiently write letters to your political representative advocating for change, whether protesting the inequality in our society, the abuse of power or the degradation of our environment.
Speaking out, writing letters, petitioning for change, this has power.
Everyone doing a little in their own way to make a difference in our world, this is keeping the faith, keeping hope alive.
Related websites: www.habitat.ca , www.united-church.ca/social justice.