Even the dogs: A reflection from the Rev. Phyllis Manoogian

“Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table”

Jesus’ conversation with the Gentile woman found both in Matthew and in Mark, speaks not of real dogs. Jesus is commenting on her outsider-ness and that first he has come to serve the people of Israel.

In a literal sense I see this scene every day at either end of my little street here in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. My street doglegs a block between the official market with its maze of stalls and the grassroots market that has sprung up in the streets. Every day, vendors toss their garbage — including produce too damaged to sell — in a heap for the garbage truck to collect later. Every day, dogs and the poorest of the poor people root through this refuse looking for something to eat. These people truly compete with the dogs that wander the streets for something to eat. 

The woman pictured here is using a crowbar in her search, both to snag whatever eatable treasure she finds and to fight off dogs that might compete for that morsel. The Episcopal Church of Santíago de Jerusalem is working towards changing this picture forever with a center of learning for local children. From now until the end of this academic year in October, Padre Miguel Salanic has invited 25 first graders who are at risk of not advancing to the second grade to come study at the church three days a week with a professional teacher and a staff of volunteers. He dreams of an enrichment program during their vacation months of November and December to insure they maintain their progress. Come January 2016, the second floor of the church will ring with the voices of preschoolers engaged in learning and preparing for the public school education that awaits them. Most of their parents sell in the marketplace and almost all represent the indigenous people of Guatemala.

Unemployment is chronic and vast here. Today’s children need every advantage they can get to succeed as adults. Without an education they will inevitably struggle all their lives. Help Padre Miguel extend a hand to these children with your prayers and financial support. You may send your check — designating the Deacon’s Discretionary Fund — to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704-1604.

Gracías! Díos les bendiga! 

The Reverend Phyllis Manoogian