One steamy July day years ago, I visited El Ocotillo School near the San Pedro Sula garbage dump in Honduras. The school setting, four posts holding up a scrap metal roof, along with the locals’ appearance and the dump’s stench, was impossible to ignore.
Our greeter, Don Delio (featured above), was President of a group called the Dump Dwellers of El Ocotillo, the name given to the San Pedro Sula garbage dump community. I expected Don Delio, a man in his 50’s, to deliver a long, boring speech. As two representatives from the local authorities, two other visitors, and I found places in the overcrowded “room,” Don Delio strode to the center of the space, acknowledged us, and began his speech.
“Thank you for coming to this area where no one wants to come.” Then, he surprised me. “Not all minds are equal,” he said. “They are not the same.”
Like American Idol’s Simon Cowell making a quick transition from staring down to looking straight at a performer in awe, I could not help but gaze directly at Don Delio. I raised my head to look straight into his face and confirm he really was the person speaking.
Each mind, he explained, is different and needs a different education. Some minds are more intellectual, while others are more artistic. He spoke to us about recognizing the need to educate El Ocotillo’s youth. He asked us to give the people of El Ocotillo the opportunity to study and become educated, to learn about the world but also about themselves.
“We each have an obligation to learn about ourselves, to be able to understand ourselves as well as our neighbors,” he stated.
His was a call for peace through education. I did not expect to hear such an eloquent argument from someone who never attended school and was barely literate. I had to wonder about the person Don Delio might have been had he been born in a place with better educational opportunities.
His seven-minute speech moved me with great pride in the work we do at International Samaritan. We alleviate poverty, create opportunities, and provide hope to those who are hopeless, those living in the most severe, chronic poverty that exists – in garbage dumps throughout the developing world.
Some weeks after we met, Don Delio disappeared. I was told he had enemies who wished him harm. Some think he was killed, while others believe he managed to flee the area. In any case, I never laid eyes on Don Delio again.
But each time I visit our service sites, I see many “Delios,” men and women, boys and girls with inquisitive minds eager to grow and flourish. Not every mind is equal, and not every heart is the same.
Because you took the time to read this story, I know you have the heart of a Samaritan. I pray you will answer the call to sponsor these promising minds in our programs, and give these “Delios” a chance for a better life.
Oscar Dussán | President