I wanted to write another story about one of my friends from Retiro saved me when I was lost in the city last week, I just didn’t feel right writing that story without first expressing some prayer needs we have. I’ve noticed that most of my entries on this blog end on a good note, with a fresh glimpse of hope the poor give us, or how God is working at Retiro. This is good, and this is true, but I wouldn’t be giving you the entire picture unless I acknowledged that God is not the only one trying to capture the hearts of these children at Retiro.
Many of the youth at Retiro use drugs. Inhaling glue smeared on the inside of a plastic bag to get high is common. There is also a relatively new drug that is growing quickly in popularity here called Paco. Paco is a mixture of crack and cocaine that they can produce very quickly and inexpensively, thus making it popular. However, Paco is extremely dangerous to those who use it because of how they produce it; it has some bad side effects. Sadly, youth are getting addicted to it at young ages–8 or 10 years old.
I would say that almost all of the youth have been abused at some point in their lives, whether emotionally or physically. Some just suffer from the nature of their lives–living and sleeping wherever they can or in dangerous slums.
Sadly, even they have a system of hierarchy–of who is better. Having light skin is valued, and those with darker skin are often called derogatory terms.
This is just a quick attempt to give you a fuller view into some of the struggles of some of the people. By no means is it representative of everyone we know and work with; there are some people and families who do not do drugs, and who are working hard to provide loving homes for their children. However, there are many people who do struggle with these addictions and emotional and physical wounds.
As we continue to love these people and look for Jesus among them, I think it is really important to keep in mind some of the things they struggle with and deal with. It’s important not to romanticize the poor or what we are doing here; it is not always easy. I think the struggles help put things in perspective…it is through God and by his love and grace that reconciliation comes about.
Let’s continue to pray for our friends in Argentina that have to deal with so much at such a young age!