Her demeanor is stoic. Her face is weathered and lined, but that is perhaps the only clear indication of the hardship and struggle that Albertina Reyes has experienced during her life living in poverty in Honduras.
It is clear that she is a pillar of strength in her family. She is the backbone that keeps her family going and moving forward each day.
Albertina’s home is a small two room shack, only about four hundred square feet all together. She has a kitchen made of tarps and sticks.
Yet, this small home is teeming with life. While the home itself, is not much to look at, it is a home filled with care and compassion for those who reside therein.
Albertina raised nine children. Her oldest daughter, Brenda, left for Mexico 7 years ago. She has not heard from her and doesn’t know if she is alive. She hopes she found a better life in Mexico but she may never know if she did or not. Two of her daughters were able to attend school until the sixth grade, the rest received even less education.
Albertina doesn’t see the value in education like many others in her community. For her, the priority is simply surviving and so a paycheck at the end of the day, or daily tasks being completed, is more important than a grade.
As many of Albertina’s children were unable to obtain sufficient education, several live with and rely on Albertina for help. Her children have given her grandchildren, a number of which Albertina is now responsible for raising.
Like most children, the grandchildren maintain a joy and innocent that often is absent once childhood is gone. They maintain a sense of freedom despite having to take on many adult responsibilities.
It is necessary for the older children to help the younger members of the families, giving them baths instead of playing with friends, supervising the babies, instead of doing homework.
Albertina continues to work in the ways she knows how, to improve her family’s life. She works long days cooking tortillas in her tarp and stick kitchen to provide income. She is currently working on a latrine and hoping the ground water doesn’t flood it so that it will be use able, but they will have to wait and see when the rains come.
Despite having little, her greatest hopes and dreams are not extravagant. She would like her children to visit. With all she lacks, it is the one thing she most wants. This is a stark contrast to many in the developed world who often choose material possessions over relationships. In that way, perhaps she is much more wealthy than many in the world.
She also wishes for relief from her asthma, a roof for the latrine and to improve her home, including to one day have a brick kitchen. For Albertina her fondest dream is one in which she is able to spend time with and feed her family.
Written by Shalyce Cluff; Photography by Jose Miguel Amaya