Nicaragua is the 2nd poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and so we encounter poverty every single day. Many of the kids we work with in the library live in about a 10 x 12 house. It is not uncommon for there to be a dirt floor (or rough cement at best). Running water is a bit of a luxury – so laundry and toilets are most commonly outside. Cooking is done by preference over a wood fueled stove. Electricity is very expensive – even for us gringo’s!
Sometimes I find myself struggling with the living conditions when we visit homes, but mostly, I leave from our visits dazzled. Kids are HAPPY – full of joy. Their hair is combed, their clothes clean (& Nica’s love to wear white!), and they are loved. Most families live together – Grandma, Grandpa, lots of aunts and sometimes uncles too. There are some downsides to living so closely to one another as you can imagine, but many benefits. Being here without any of our extended family, it is very easy for me to see the benefits. I admit, my “American Eyes” still see all the things they NEED – but in reality, I wonder if they are showing me all that I don’t.
Nutrition and education would be the exception to me being dazzled. Reality is, most kids never know what the feeling of full is. A meal consists of just enough to take the edge off. The average Nica adult lives on less than $2 a day. Some friends of ours experimented with that and ate on $2 or less a day – so not even all of their expenses – just their food. I will share more about their findings in a later blog post, but two “no duh” things they discovered is that they were always hungry and they lacked energy. I will save education for another post as well as there is so much to say and the need is so BIG!
So, poverty is real, and I am affected by it for sure everyday – and this week, I was affected by it right down to my very core! Meet Brittney -
Our family has hosted an afternoon of art in the park once a week since we arrived, and I first met Brittney at one of the afternoons. She’s a beautiful girl and right away I loved so many things about her, but today, I discovered a dozen more.
Brittney is 10. Her mom went to Costa Rica to work, and her dad has been in prison for the past 5 years. So, who lives in her house you might ask? Brittney lives with her 3 brothers. The mom does come home from Costa Rica about every 10 days or so for a few days, but in large part it is just Steven (12), Brittney (10), Felson (he turns 6 on Thursday), & Felion (who is just 2). I am quite certain I am misspelling their names, and the younger two boys often are both called Felly. Regardless, these incredible kids are living in large part without any parents. This has been a really difficult story for me to get my mind and heart around, and so I am extremely thankful God has given our family and opportunity to jump right in and get to know these kids. It has been fun to hang out and play, and get a few ice cream cones too! They do have some extended family nearby who are helping as they can, but the resources are already spread so thin.
One of the ways we are trying to help this family is by fixing up their house for them. It is the rainy season here and when it rains, it rains HARD! Their roof is shot – filled with many rusted out holes. This means that their house is flooding nearly every night. Mike, Wes, and a friend Lee, have measured and are working on an estimate to fix the roof. As you will see from our pictures, the zinc roof rests on some wood beams. These beams need replacing as well. We are not sure if we have the money to fully re-roof the house, but we have heard about a product that can fill the holes and re-seal it. We are pricing both options out right now, and actually hope to purchase supplies on Monday and begin work on Tuesday. Please pray we can just jump on this big project – and even find the extra hands we need to really get some things done.
Additionally, I am trying to think of some ways to make it easier on Brittney as she cooks for her family by getting a few new things for their kitchen as well as some pastic bins with lids that they can store their clothes and things in. Yes, these kids are getting up, getting cleaned and dressed, eating, cleaning up their house including the dishes by themselves.
Currently they are sharing one bed with a single mosquito net. They do have other beds that I think the kids would use if they had other nets, so we will purchase two more nets for these beds. Felson birthday is on Thursday, so we’d love to get a few things for him to help him feel celebrated as well. He is extremely excited to be turning 6!
We were supposed to move to Chinandega on Monday but were able to postpone it until Thursday giving us more time, but still a very small window to do the things we hope to do. We’ve gone round and round in prayer and discussion as a family, wondering how we can help? How should we? The needs are so many. What is sustainable? What would really help? What is the best use of our resource? What does love look like for this specific situation?
And so, we will start here – with the projects above. We will use $350 US from our support money to get this project rolling – in faith that some how we can figure out the rest. As soon as we have a total for the roof we will post it here on our blog.
If you are interested in helping fund this specific project, donations can be mailed to the following: The Covenant Church, 4825 S. Lemay Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80525 (please put Borden Mission in the memo line)