Living in the Garbage Dump: My Story

Cory & ChichiAs an intern for Inca Link we are asked to make five goals for our self and I was struggling to come up with some; I had this thought that God had put in my head that I could not let go of.  It was that I should live and work in the garage dump.  So I wrote it down thinking that it might happen sometime during my time here in Peru, but it just so happened that it all worked out that I was going to go at the end of the week to work along side this guy named Chichi. 

With a couple of days to prepare I was thinking that I should be really nervous, but through it all God had given me an awesome peace and calmness.  I was going to be getting there Wednesday afternoon and staying till Saturday afternoon. 

So I get dropped off at Chichi's little shack / pig farm.  Then Chichi comes and picks me up and then we go back to his house and he tells me to lie down and take a nap, he comes in and wakes me up for dinner at 7:00pm.  We get on what he calls his moto which is the front half of a motorcycle with a bench seat, and it has three wheels. 

So we arrived at his shack and go around gathering big sacs and tarps. His shack is just a brick hut with a metal roof and some boards that make it have an upper and lower floor inside.  On the upper floor there was a mattress and then a big piece of foam which we were going to sleep on until 12:30am, at this time Chichi's brother Josey shows up since they work together. 

We all get up and head into the garbage dump to work because that is when the best trash comes in.  We go park near a big pile of garbage and sit and wait for a garbage truck to come.  Looking around there are tons of people digging through the trash with head lamps since there aren't any lights.  A truck shows up and we walk over as it is pushing the trash out the back; there are a whole bunch of people gathered with their poles which have two prongs on the end and are used for pulling the trash out of the truck into a pile.  The truck pulls away and it is time to start digging through the trash looking for anything that can be recycled like cardboard, plastic, glass, paper, metal, and cans which we throw on the tarp.  Digging through we are also looking for plastic bags that are filled with any type of food that could be fed to pigs which we put into the sac.  We do this all through the night. At times there is one trash truck after another and then there are times when it is an hour or two between trucks to where we sit and wait. 

With the sun starting to come up, it is about 7:00am, we load up both Chichi and Josey’s motos with the tarps with the ends tided together so the recycling does not fall out, and with the sacs which are stuffed with the pig food; this will take three trips between both the motos.  We take loads back to his shack and take everything off the motos, then we throw the recycling on his recycling pile and we take the sacs full of food to two feeding dens and spread it around; then we release the pigs so that they can feed. 

Then Chichi's daughter brings us breakfast and we all sit around and eat.  After we are done we go and put the pigs back into their dens which are just made from wooden poles that are tied together to make fences and gates.  Then Chichi leaves and heads back into the dump to continue to work till 3:30 in the afternoon.  This shift he and his brother alternate days Monday through Friday.  Josey takes me back to Chichi's house to get some rest because it is too dangerous for me to work in the light.  It is the same schedule for the next two nights.

Through my whole experience I was very humbled by pretty much everything, from what I saw, to how I felt, to things that I experienced, to things that I smelled.  This is a way of life for these people, all that they know, and most have grown up doing this there entire life.  It was awesome to see how much fun these people had even though to us this is the worst, most horrible place that you could be.  They were playing jokes on each other, laughing together, and laying in the trash hanging out.  They did this all while wearing the same clothes each and every night and I am sure not even taking a shower for some time.  There were times when I would look up from working and look around and think that this is what these people do for a living and then my heart would sink for them.  The hardest thing for me to see was when several people would find a chicken leg and then peel the skin away and eat it, I also saw a man find some water left in a water bottle, open it and drink the rest of it.  While working my gloves were soaked in who knows what from opening the bags with soggy food in them.  There were times when I was knee deep in trash picking through for recycling and looking for plastic bags.  These people sacrifice everything for their families and just to get the next meal on the table.  Through my whole situation this is only a glimpse into their life and I can't even imagine doing this everyday for the rest of my life to just put a meal on the table.