What can you do?

This morning while driving to work, one of my Peruvian friends began telling me about two stories she heard on the news last night. She shared with me a report about the bleak conditions present in Lima´s firestations. The reporter explained that in most cases, though each station has several fire trucks, at any given time only a couple are operational. Being a firefighter in Lima is not a paid position, so all men and women are volunteers and the stations recieve little if any funding from the government. I have yet to see a a firestation during my time Lima. If one of the city´s high rise apartment buildings were to catch on fire, what could be done?

The following story she shared with me was a feature on the frigidly cold weather conditions in Puno, Peru. This area is underdeveloped and poverty stricken. Due to the lack of resources, often time residents become very ill due to the cold. She told me that the Regional President of Puno spoke on the news and said, "They keep telling me that money is coming, but I haven´t seen it yet. I have been here for five months and I haven´t seen any of it."

As I learn more and more about the complicated workings of the Peruvian government and social programs, I am overhwlemed by the sheer volume of obstacles facing anyone who would like to make a positive change. Money, food and blankets are important means of help, but Peru needs more than that. There are problems that are so deepy institutionalized, that it appears to me that it would take decades to change the system. It breaks my heart to see the enormous volume of need in the city around me and yet I don´t know where the help should begin.

No matter where you are in the world, there are problems which are staggeringly overwhelming. How do you cope with feeling helpless?