Asking Big Questions
Our Destino summer project is going to the Dominican Republic this summer. As I sat in our doctor’s office today with my daughters I thought about how expensive it is to pay for vaccines to go on these trips overseas. Each shot cost about 60 dollars. We had been on the phone with several students this week trying to help them figure out a way to pay for the immunizations. When you have no money, it doesn’t matter that you can reimburse your shots later. There isn’t a later when you have nothing to pay with today. I found myself frustrated this morning thinking about how difficult it is for our poorer students involved.
I thought about our student last summer that was raising $4,700 for her trip to the Mediterranean. While raising support, her family had no money for groceries. On Facebook at one point she put “Praise the Lord! He provides!” not at all talking about summer project but about the groceries her parents found on their doorstep and the food stamps they were able to qualify for finally. It was hard for me to reconcile asking her to raise money while her whole family was struggling just to survive.
Or I thought about another student that came to faith as a freshman with us. When it came time to register for Winter Conference this year, she wasn’t able to even pay the 35 dollar deposit to register. All the money she had made working was going towards her sisters summer tuition and her family’s needs.
I also thought about our intern, who after graduating from college with an architecture degree, went home to tell her single mom that she was going to do ministry full-time with Destino and live off of support. While that is a typical struggle for a lot of parents, it is devastating for a family that has been putting all their hopes in their child pulling them out of poverty with their education. I remember her crying as she shared her story with our staff team. I hurt with her knowing she felt the weight of her entire family’s disappointment.
I don’t have answers for how things should change, but I do know that they need to. I know that if we are serious about reaching every student then our system needs to make room to let every student feel like they can belong. They shouldn’t feel like they need to have a certain amount of money to be a part of this community. At a training recently someone said, “If our answers only apply to small college towns or middle class white people, we are not asking big enough questions.” I know without a doubt that we need to start asking bigger questions if we are going to be an organization that is inclusive rather than an organization that leaves people on the margins.