PostCards Never Written
Janita Van de Velde
BOLIVIA
While we were sitting at the station in Bolivia, waiting for our train to arrive, three little boys wandered in and sat down beside us. Johnny, who had been reading a copy of National Geographic, went to sit between the boys and started showing them a map of the Americas, which had been inserted into one of the magazines. As he sat there with these children, pointing out where we came from and then showing them where they lived, their eyes lit up and they devoured every word that he said. As they stared in wonder at the beautiful photos in the magazine, I thought about how often we see pictures of people like this in their beautiful countries, yet most of them will never see anything beyond their village. And again, why is it that they seem much happier and more at peace with themselves than we do? They have nothing, and yet they possess everything we so desperately want.

When the train was about to arrive, they insisted on carrying our bags to the platform. We gave them all of the cash we had on us. I think it worked out to about twenty dollars for each of them. It was as though we had handed them the world, and it was almost more than I could bear. As we left them, my heart smashed into a thousand little pieces.
All images and text copyright Janita Van de Velde ©2007