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A Sociological Perspective

September 27, 2009

Several of you have, with reason, asked why I am trying to give them a library instead of something like food or medicine, so I wanted to let you know where I’m coming from. I definitely acknowledge that they have a great many needs. Currently, they do have a feeding program in place, so I am leaving that up to FMSC. Medicine is certainly needed, but I know that some medical missions do visit La Chureca.
Perhaps I will partner with people to get medicine once this projects gets off the ground. For right now, I am focusing on the library because that is what God put on my heart. If you feel strongly that something must be done to cloth, feed, or house these lovely people, then maybe you should think about starting something. Why not? And I’d be happy to help.

Anyway, here is something I wrote for Sociology about La Chureca:

Based upon the information we have covered so far in the textbook, I would define the Sociological Imagination as the process of taking a personal issue and viewing it in the framework of common social dynamics.

The personal problem I am going to use to explain the Sociological Imagination is not personal in the sense that I live in it. Though the problem lies overseas, it has affected me deeply, and can undoubtedly correlate to issues in the United States. Managua’s city dump, commonly referred to as “La Chureca,” houses hundreds of families who live among the garbage they daily search for salvageable goods and food. Anyone who has walked beside them like I have asks the question, “Why do they stay here?” Or “What keeps us from moving them to a safe environment?”

Until I distance myself from the situation and evaluate the social structure, including recurrent patterns, I cannot begin to understand their behavior or improve their quality of life. Using the Sociological Imagination I focus on a larger group of people, rather than an individual family. Many of the families in La Chureca have been there for generations. Similar to some underprivileged urban families, the familiarity of an environment—coupled with lack of opportunity and resources—makes it difficult for a young person to begin a successful life in different surroundings. A young man who manages to survive on his own is now lacking a support system. Viewed without the Sociological Imagination, his situation indeed appears very personal, even though the pattern of social isolation will repeat itself with every person who attempts to leave the area.

Once again this raises the question of why we do not quickly remove everyone at the same time. To make this question simpler, we must make light of the fact that many adults, shockingly, do not want to leave. I met a man who had done fairly well on his own outside the dump, but moved back close to the outskirts, spending much of his time inside. Why? He could not convince some of the relatives to leave. While he managed to escape the rampant unemployment, virtually everyone inside La Chureca is reliant solely on the objects they uncover and are able to recycle or sell. If they were removed from the dump, they would have no source of income. In conclusion, the Sociological Imagination reveals to us more pressing needs than simple relocation: jobs and education.

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