Tag Archives: students

An Eskimo in Jinotega

3 May

You don’t know happiness until you’ve watched an 8-year-old eat ice-cream for the first time in her life.

Let’s back up here.

Thursday morning was spent attempting the climb to the cross on the hill.  I’m not ashamed to say it: I couldn’t get all the way there.  Apparently I stopped just before the hike became cool and easy.  My rationale was that, if the folks from the Red Cross looked like they were going to pass out, who would save me if I shared the same fate?  Would they bury me where I landed?  Did I mention the cemetery at the bottom of the hill?  Ha!

I think Ruth was the most disappointed, but she has lived with the combination of heat and humidity her entire life.  It was more than I could handle in my all-too-out-of-shape state.  I promised we would successfully make the climb next year — and we will.

Thursday afternoon, we arrived back at the community center to find Geovania, Judy, and Karla waiting to see Nancy.  We decided it would be fun to take them for ice-cream at the Eskimo downtown, where I had gone with Sarah and Ruth just a week prior.  They seemed to know where the shop was, but didn’t appear terribly excited.  I think, perhaps, I’ve noted the heat and humidity to you before, yes?  (cough.)  How could a dairy-loving person in Nicaragua be anything but excited for ice-cream?  Both Nancy and I had noted their muted responses individually, but didn’t say anything to each other.  We would understand in good time.

As we headed into the Eskimo, the girls seemed to perk up and become downright giddy with the idea of ‘choices.’

“What flavor ice-cream do you want?” asked Nancy.

When you live in poverty, you don’t have many choices in your life.  These girls would each have one to make today.

Geovania came back to the table with eyes the size of saucers, a double-scoop in one hand, a spoon in the other.  I was sitting across from her when she took her first bite.  The combination of excitement, thrill, and new-found knowledge on her face was priceless.  She quickly whispered something to her cousin, then took a second, bigger bite.

Life is good.


A Case of the Wednesdays

2 May

Wednesday afternoon would host the most difficult hour of my life.  Fany, CdA’s program director in Jinotega, wanted me to see the homes of students looking for a scholarship from our program.

This little girl, her name is Maria.  Maria is 5-years-old.  She is on CdA’s waiting list.

She lives with her family, who all clearly suffer from malnutrition.  Her baby brother has light red hair, a visible sign he is not receiving enough nutrients.  Her mother and grandmother are illiterate.  All of the adults are missing most of their teeth.

This is the house Maria and her family live in.  As you can see in the previous photo, their home is lined with plastic, in hopes of keeping the torrential rains out during the rainy season.  This is the tropics.  Half of the year is the ‘rainy season’ and it often rains during the ‘dry season.’  It’s hard to say how many people live in this tiny home, but I’m guessing at least eight.

This is Erika and her mother.  Recently, Erika’s mother started feeling unwell.  Turns out she had a brain tumor, which has been removed, and is now blind.  Erika’s father abandoned her and her two siblings, so now it’s up to her grandmother to support the family.  Erika is 8-years-old and also on our waiting list.

This is the home that Erika lives in with her family.  Just inside the door, behind where Erika is standing, is her mother’s bed.  This bed is the equivalent of three layers of cardboard.  Their home is on top of a steep hill and I cannot imagine how her mother would be able to leave the house.  Keep in mind, this barrio has rocky dirt roads.

This is Mayra.  Mayra is a 12-year-old studying the 6th grade.  She lives just down the way from our community center.

This is Mayra with her mother and two of her sisters.  She has one more sister, a sweet girl with cerebral palsy, who will need care over the course of her entire life.  Mayra’s father works giving transportation using their horse and cart, but the income is not enough to support their family.


All of these families were happy, welcoming, and kind — giving me blessings for pledging to find sponsors for their girls.  They aren’t the only students on our waiting list, but they are representative of the neighborhood we work in.  There is great need in Jinotega, whether you’re reading this the day I post it or years down the line.  Someone needs help and you (YES, you) can give hope to those living in the poorest of conditions.  If you want to learn more, I suggest visiting CdA’s Sponsorship page.  If you cannot commit to $44+ a month, please think about giving to our general fund.  We use general fund money to repair our community center and fund special programs, like The Ayudate Project.

These girls could use your consideration.