Sunday, November 18, 2012

Los Niños de México


The young doctor came to visit my parent's home one evening last month. Her husband drove and looked after their four year old daughter during the consultation with my mother. I sat at the other end of the chesterfield as Abril clung shyly to her father, barely looking at the English speaking stranger. Pulling out my iPad, I focused the camera on her and she smiled, then laughed, then stood on her head in front of the device. My daughter called on Skype and Abril saw our dog and home two countries and thousands of miles away. The language barrier was overcome with technology and I had a new friend. A few minutes later I got up to peel some hard-boiled eggs and tried my very rudimentary Spanish. "Huevo," I said to Abril. She looked up brightly and said, "Egg, yellow egg." Her kindergarten English topped my Spanish.


Earlier in the week I went to a small town with my brother and sister-in-law for a children's Bible class. The children met at 6:00 PM in the front yard of a very modest house. An unconscious man, drunk or stoned, lay on the sidewalk beside us as the full moon shone down on very dark streets. The children were delightful and wanted me to take pictures and listen to the English words they learned in school. They sang, listened to the story and did their lesson in the poor light. A couple of young teenagers used the light from a cell phone to illuminate the pages.


The waiting room at the cancer centre was exactly that;- a place to wait and wait. A little boy sat with his father while his mother entered the chemotherapy suite. A priest prepared to give the daily mass for the sick and the boy became restless. His dad gave him a cell phone and the child sat on the floor happily playing a game. Medical technology at this hospital was on par with hospitals in Canada and the staff members were knowledgable and efficient.


I walked around the school on my brother's property during classes. The uniformed children arrive at  7:00 AM when the day is still relatively cool (for me) and then leave by 2:00 PM. I looked at a display of pictures of famous people including Christopher Columbus and Steve Jobs. Christopher Columbus changed this part of the world forever but to this generation, Steve Jobs and other technology giants are the explorers of new horizons.


Mexico receives plenty of negative press related to drug violence and corruption. In the faces of the children I see hope and optimism for the future. Through technology they are connected to the global community. Through education and good mentors they hold the potential for change and a brighter tomorrow.