This is not the Chile we want to build. ~ Ricardo Lagos.
They are beautiful, like children anywhere, descendants of the Araucanians, the Incas & Spanish conquistadors like Magellan, dark haired, dark eyed, spirited. Even the ferocious Incas could not subdue entirely the peoples of Chile.
They inhabit a long ribbon of land on the western seaboard of South America, perched precariously above the Peru~Chile Trench that plunges to 26 463 feet below the ocean. It does other things too, pushing the Nazca Plate under the continental plate at about 10 cm a year ~ which is quite a lot~ creating earthquakes & tsunamis & the Andes Mountains.
The developing countries of Latin America have a dark underbelly with 40~50 million Latin American street children. That's 45%! With a population of just 16.5 million as many as 15 000 Chilean children may live on the street. 4 000 of those may be involved in the commercial sex trade.
We used to work with homeless youth in Australia. Getting exact numbers is always dodgy & there are degrees of homelessness, just as there are various reasons for choosing to live on the streets. Few children live at home one day & are on the streets the next. Homelessness is a slow, gradual & predictable process as they exit from the family home, gradually spending more & more time with their peers. 85% leave for economic reasons & the move onto the streets often begins as young as 5 years of age.
Like many of the Latin American countries Chile has a double~layered society. The conquering Spaniards have garnered the cream of the country's wealth. The native inhabitants struggle with persistent poverty ~ & the handmaidens of poverty: alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, family breakdown & child abandonment.
At some point I became aware that they shoot street children in Brazil the way we'd shoot rabbits or feral cats, as vermin to be gotten rid of. No white Australian child ever has cause for complaint in light of that. Chile is not quite that bad but it is bad enough.
And I've heard it said often enough; Charity begins at home. There's plenty of homelessness in Australia. Our indigenous people have enough problems to occupy the mission oriented for a century or two. Why Chile?
Who can say how a heart is captured? There are things that were foundational, beyond Liddy's control. Half her genetic make~up is Spanish: the light olive skinned complexion, the slim oval of her face, the brown of her hair & eyes. She will blend. She is a soccer fanatic, going to a country where soccer is king & known as the Beautiful Game. The majority, of the street children are boys ~ though that may be debatable depending on definitions~ who are soccer mad. She adores children ~ & here are children in desperate need. That is the calling God has placed on her heart. I am always amazed at how God likes to move His people around the world.
The thing too is that street children are far from helpless. They often have really high IQs. They have to survive & can be manipulative. They form caring societies & have good self esteem unless they become involved in the drug scene. These are strengths that can be developed & worked with but there is one thing more that is desperately needed: more than food, more than work; more than education. In a country where Catholicism is the dominant religion the gospel of Christ still needs to be preached & the light of His Holy Spirit shone into the dark places of people's lives to bring healing & wholeness. Everything else is just a means to an end.