My phone rang in our hotel room at 4:15am Tuesday morning. It was Francisco: “Como estas, Kim? Voy a llegar at 4:45 ok?” We think he called to make sure we would actually be awake when he arrived to pick us up at our Tapachula hotel. I met Francisco the day I arrived in Tapachula because he was the taxi driver who took me from the airport to my hotel. On that ride, I told him I was there to support the Caminata, and he replied “Todos somos iguales bajo dios.” We are all the same under God. Then he said he wanted to help too.
As planned, Francisco arrived at 5am with his wife, Ysania, and their four year old daughter, Ambar. We started the day at the Tapachula public market where we bought vegetables, rice, oil, chiles and chicken before heading to the house of Francisco’s sister, Veronica.
When we arrived at Veronica’s house, she was ready for us. Water was boiling over two fires in the yard and we got right to work chopping the vegetables and chicken. No shortcuts. The sauce was made from fresh chiles and tomatoes. The rice was cleaned and washed, then toasted in oil before adding the water and vegetables. The 1250 tortillas had to be warm from the tortilla maker. This food for the masses was made with the same love and care that went into food for the family.
After everything was perfectly cooked and seasoned, we loaded the troughs of chicken and rice into the back of a pick up and headed 20 miles north to Huitxla, where the members of the Caravan had slept the night before. Within seconds of our arrival in the town square, a long line formed at the back of our truck bed. People were hungry, thousands of them. Huitxla is a poor community and there were no NGOs there except for those couple of Red Cross vans.
For awhile, there was joy and gratitude for the wonderful food our Mexican friends had prepared. We fed 400 people with just a few hours work and less than $150.
But much too soon, the food was gone with so many people still in line, hungry, hoping for any kind of sustenance. Our ride back to Tapachula was quiet.
The next 200 miles of the Caminata’s path is through poor villages. There is no government help. There are no NGOs following them. We wonder how they will eat, where they will get water. We know there are so many Mexicans like Francisco and Ysania and Veronica, but they are also struggling to feed their families.
Please world…make the relief of human suffering more important.