No Brakes

By Emily Stroble | September 16, 2021

The good news: they had a motorbike.

The bad news: it had no brakes.

Pastor Francisco Mendez and his wife, Clemencia, had embarked on a two-day journey from their home in Argentina to reach several remote Wichí villages in Paraguay. When they arrived at the bus terminal after the first leg of their trip, friends met them with a motorbike to carry them out into the rural, dry territory where the Wichí live.

Motorbikes are vital equipment for missionaries like Francisco around the world. Small and agile, they can navigate rough terrain to reach the world’s most isolated and forgotten people.

Families, like this one in Argentina, live in areas without infrastructure. The governments of the nations in which the Wichí live don’t recognize them or offer them any public resources.

Perhaps “motorbike” was a generous term. It was a bike. It had a motor. But without breaks or lights, it was difficult to imagine how it would make it all the way from the bus terminal to the isolated Wichís.

The Wichís are members of an indigenous South American people group. They live in villages spread across the invisible borders of several countries that either don’t care about the Wichís or have forgotten that they even exist. No one builds roads to the Wichís. Without schools, hospitals, electricity, or access to basic infrastructure, many Wichí are trapped in poverty. Families live off meager fishing; many go days between meals.

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