I was supposed to attend an event of one of our employer partners at my host organization. But, of course, since all the streets have the same names through the four corners of this city, I got lost (because M and 4th could be NW, NE, SE and SW right? Who was the genius that invented this?). But I took advantage of my lack of orientation and decided to walk and explore some places of Washington DC, beyond the fancy downtown, the hipster Adams Morgan and the monumental and evergreen National Mall.
Just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol lies a different world, perhaps the real United States, the unseen in the Hollywood mega productions. Some (huge) parts of this city are as similar as any slum in Central America or South East Asia: violent, poor, vulnerable, segregated and hidden from the tourists’ sight.
I’m blessed of be one of the few fellows that work directly with the needed in this city, particularly with vulnerable and disconnected youth. In the country of opportunities there are around 40 millions of people living under the line of poverty, and in its capital there are more than 4,000 of homeless youth (half of them physically assaulted and 1 out 4 sexually abused), and I’m trying to make an impact in their lives.
As Atlas Corps fellows, as professionals who want to make an impact in our world, we should never forget that beyond our fancy offices and the great events we regularly attend lies a harsh reality, a reality we should not ignore. We are called to be leaders of integrity, those types of leaders that turn the world upside down. And for that sometimes worth paying a visit to the reality and open our eyes.