Monday, January 22, 2007

Revelations from a Trash Dump

Me and mum went out to Happy Valley Landfill today. We went there to drop off our rubbish. One thing you discover at a landfill is how dirty and disgusting it is. The dust goes up your nose and you feel dirty as you work in the conditions to clean out the back of your trailer or car and you want to get out of the situation that you are in. As I was thinking over this I thought of the urban poor in many nations around the world and in particular Asian countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines. In these countries (and in modern western countries as well) the urban poor and the untouchables live in conditions like dumps.

In reality when I think of it, the conditions of these places are even worse than those dumps we see in New Zealand. Our country is so rich and modern that all the refuse is not thrown into one pit all area, but is sorted for its usefulness. While in these poorer nations the dumps have everything thrown into them. From bags full of old food to tyres from the middle classes cars, these produce the living conditions for those who have to live there, the poor, the destitute, Deserted women and their orphaned children. They live in tiny houses, created from rusting corrugated iron, old clothes, broom sticks and tyres so they can have a means of coverage from the monsoon rains, the cold (which killed 120 or so in the city of Bangladesh in a week while some missionaries I know were there.) The conditions are dirty and disgusting and seem unliveable. Some short term missionaries who I know who went to Bangladesh talk about how the dirt, grime and pollution filling every orifice. When they arrived back in Hong Kong, they ended up filling the baths up with hot water and washing themselves clean to get rid of the grime that had covered their whole bodies. These missionaries lived in better conditions than many who lived on the street aswell. The urban live in refuse, their own sewer and face dysentery etc. They don’t live here by choice, it is seen as their proper role in society, dumped their because they are the untouchables who live in their place because of the worldview that because of their past life they have to live in that caste, poor, forced to beg and live in unliveable conditions for the rest of their rotten days on the earth. The others are forced their by the result of unfortunate circumstances such as the death of family or desertion.

Jesus in the bible used the picture of a dump to describe hell. Gehenna is the word used in the Gospels by Jesus for hell. Originally it was used by Jews to practice detestable acts for the god Molech. By the first century AD it was a big pit used to place all the refuse of the city of Jerusalem. Gehenna had continuously burning fires produced from Gas of the waste that was put into it. So in the eyes of Jewish people, a rubbish dump was an image of hell. Drawing the analogy further, those who live in the rubbish tips/slums live in a physical and spiritual hell that not many of us have never seen or heard of in the west. Many will never have the chance to hear the Gospel and receive the freedom found in this or find economic and social freedom. It saddens and angers me and forces me to look at myself, the life I live and how I react to injustice around me and around the world I live in. I’m pretty lucky. I live in the suburbs of Wellington. They are a very clean, very respectable. We live in large houses where we have luxuries that millions in other countries will only see when they are producing the items. It would take them years to be able to purchase the Item that takes us a couple of months to acquire. So how am I going to deal with this? So how are we going to deal with this? Think about it the next time you go to the rubbish tip or you throw your rubbish out in Bin.

No comments: