My first Uber driver in Peru was a 19 year-old fleeing Venezuela
I arrived in Lima two days ago. I came on a one-way ticket with no plan and only the hopes to let go of the fears I carry with me.
On day three I called my first Uber to go to the Chabad House (A Jewish cultural centre) for Friday night services and dinner.
My Uber driver was named Alejandro. He told me he was 19. He went on to share that he left Venezuela one month ago entirely by himself. He told me the rest of his family was still back in Venezuela.
I asked him if he liked it here in Lima. He said not really because he has to work very hard to pay for his food and to send money back to his family. He wished he had more time to do fun things.
It hit me hard in that moment that two parallel worlds were colliding in this taxi ride.
Here I was on a one way ticket to see the world. A ticket to work digitally, to explore, with all the freedom behind me.
And sitting beside me, Alejandro was here on a ticket to flee his country and to work for Uber to pay for food and help provide for his family. All at the age of nineteen.
How was any of this fair? From our 45 minute conversation in Spanglish it was clear Alejandro was kind-hearted, charismatic and curious to see the world. Inarguably he was just as deserving to have all the same opportunities as me. Why do I get afforded all this adventure and not Alejandro? I definitely don’t have an answer to this.
Meeting Alejandro moved me deeply. Despite his circumstances his jovial and open-minded spirit was in tact. He shared how delighted he was to meet a Jewish person for the very first time.
When I told him how much his story inspired me his reply was, “Really? Why?!”
I explained to him that I think he is so strong to come to Venezuela by himself.
He responded assuredly, “Yes it is difficult. But with a good attitude you meet stupendous people who make your days more bearable and happy.”
As long as we are breathing we all have privilege on some level. But this one Uber ride revealed to me the extent of my own privilege.
It has been a jerking wake up call to not take this freedom for granted.
Most importantly, it has been a reminder to do some good in the world with this gift many of us reading this have most mysteriously been granted.