Saturday, March 3, 2012

A mystery man

Normally before I write about someone I ask them if they mind being mentioned on my blog but I am making a exception with this story. It’s for this reason that I have been reluctant to tell this story but I think it is a story that needs telling. I am hoping something positive will come out of this and I hope that this doesn’t sound like I am exploiting this  poor man, that is the last thing that I want to do. Sometimes when we try to help someone it can, if not thought out properly actually do more harm than good so I have thought long and hard and am still not entirely sure but here goes;
Every once in a while last year I would see a very needy, poor and destitute looking man walking on the streets here on the Island, and I assumed he lived way in the back of the Colonina, which is where the poorer people live. It is fairly common here in Mexico that the poorest people live on the edge of town, usually squatting there. Well, I assumed wrong, as is usually the case when one is assuming. I also assumed that he had some mentally disabilities that kept him from finding employment, I assumed wrong on that one too.
When I first got here I was house sitting for some friends of mine and was this mans neighbour (kind of). Turned out he lives (lived) under a tree at the edge of the village in a shelter that he had built of bits and pieces of garbage, a piece of card board here and a few palm fonds, it was a very crude shelter. I have since been told that he has lived here for 5 years, maybe not always under that particular tree. He originally lived under a tree at the airport for about 10 years, one lady told me 10 years, another said 11, what the actual number is I do not know, let’s just call it a long long time. They finally evicted him for reasons I do not know and he wandered his way over here and has been here ever since. He does not speak, and does not interact with anyone, he comes into the village just far enough to scrounge for food and then he heads backs to his hut. His tree was right at the corner of the new development in the plantations and for a while the construction crew would work around him but finally they took it upon themselves to build him a new hut further up the road (away from the village), they built him a beautiful little hut, a very sturdy and well built hut. It looks like a work of love, they didn’t have to do that, they could have just ploughed down his garbage and let him rebuild somewhere else but they didn’t, and God will bless them for that, I just know. He has a house now that will keep him dry during the rainy reason and warm at nights during the cold season (warmer anyway). They even built the floor up off the ground so it wouldn’t be cold. They attached a basket to the outside wall so that people could drop off food for him. You can tell the way it was built that it wasn’t built out of duty; you can see it was built out of love and someone took great pride in building it. An act of love like this does not go unnoticed by God.

I guess we can't really call him homeless anymore. 
He still wanders in to the village about 3 times a day to look for food. Now that I have moved into my house I am across the street from 2 ladies that leave food out for him on top of a brick fence and he knows it is for him and comes in to get it. A few times I would watch him come in to check the fence for food and finding nothing he started rummaging through the garbage, as I was watching this I decided this is not necessary, and vowed that he would not have to do that anymore. The two ladies that are feeding him do not have a lot to give and are giving as much as they can spare which is what has kept him alive. God will also bless them for that. It’s easy to give when you have lots to give but when you don’t have much it is a sacrifice to give and that is what they have been doing. By the looks of him he has been getting just enough food to stay alive but certainly not enough to be healthy or comfortable.
I’ve been told that the man has never spoken, no one knows his name or where he came from. He is not Mexican, or Latino, he looks to be Caucasian. Apparently he has a suitcase that he has always had with him, because he ended up at the airport I am guessing he came here by plane at some point, something happened to keep him from leaving. There are many scenarios here, we can assume many things. I am guessing that he is not mute; I think he can talk but has chosen not to as a defence; it is his form of protection from people. If you don’t respond people eventually stop bugging you and just start ignoring you, something happened to him to make him feel he needed to protect himself and now that it has been so long he most likely has forgotten how to talk even if he wanted too. Think about not interacting with humans for 15 years, think of what it would do to your mind even if you were of sound mind to begin with. He has been living like a dog, competing for scrapes of food in the trash, no water, no toilet, no family, no books, no TV, no friends, no money, no social interaction what so ever for 15 years (or so). This man has an amazing story. Imagine.
Here is the thought that breaks my heart, what if there is a mother looking for him? He looks to be in his 30s or early 40s, hard to tell though, which would mean he came here as a young man of 20 or so, he must have a mother somewhere. A mother would never stop looking or hoping. It is heartbreaking to think that there may be a family somewhere looking for a brother, a son or father even. Imagine.
As I was talking this through with a few friends someone said that maybe he doesn’t want to be found, maybe he is hiding. If that were true I doubt he would have hung out at the airport for 10 years, airports have security and police, and Federales coming and going all the time, not a good hiding spot. When he came to the Island he built his shelter right on the edge of the road in plain view when he could have walked a few yards into the jungle and have been completely out of sight. I don’t think he is hiding, although I am sure his passport had expired as has his visitor visa.
I have been trying to get a good face shot of him but he is so quick to grab food and head back up the road. I have a few shots but I am still hoping for a good head shot. Maybe maybe someone will recognize him if we pass this picture on. With the help of the internet it is possible to get his picture around the world. When I look at his face I think he may be European, I also see German features in him, his eyes are light but his hair is dark, he has high cheek bones and a prominent nose, I would put him at about 5’11. Please copy this picture and pass it around.

Matthew 25:35-46

I have been told that there is a lady on the Island here that cuts his hair once in awhile. I haven’t found her yet (I don’t have a name). I do want to speak to her and see if she has ever been able to communicate with him at all.
I am now helping the ladies on my street feed him, I have the means to do this (it really doesn’t take much) and certainly have the time. I just cook for 2 now, which is kind of nice and when I buy fruit and vegetables I now buy for 2. I pack him a lunch every night and put it out for him early in the morning. I try to make it a healthy meal, a carb, a protein, a fruit and a vegetable, sometimes a treat from the dessert truck and sometimes a bag of Cheetos. Between the two of them the other 2 ladies leave something for him around supper time most days. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do for when I leave, do I leave money with someone to feed him? Who? I’ll have to think about this.
I haven’t seen him dig through the garbage since I’ve started contributing, there should be no need for anyone to eat out of the garbage, if only the people that had to spare would share. I believe there is enough food to go around, there are just too many people hoarding it and not sharing. I just keep thinking, “What if this was my son, or my father or my brother” how would I want other people to treat him. Imagine.
Matthew 25:35-46
I’ve been told this man has never harmed anyone here, he has never been a nuisance, and he has never stolen anything, he has never stepped foot into anyone’s yard except to reach into the garbage. He is just looking to survive. I was also told that if you hand him something he won’t take it but he did take a bag of food from me one day.


Anonymous said...

So many emotions reading this. Oh my. One of my first thoughts was to maybe leave him a toothbrush and toothpaste and a bar of soap with lunch one day? And every so many weeks another toothpaste and soap?

So many things we take for granted having that are absolute luxuries, I know.

When I checked your blog this morning I was so happy to find you back, and enjoy a long coffee while catching up.

Would this man per chance be interested in any odd jobs? From what you and others say he seems to be honest and not bothersome.

See? I am still thinking of hiim and know I will for a long time.


Contessa said...

It has taken me a while to comment on this.....still not sure what to say but that you are a wonder. I have seen this fellow but with long hair and naked, is it the same fellow?

Let's talk about waht we can do re food while we head North.