In a Different Place

The Perdomo family is strikingly beautiful. Their eyes are haunting and mysterious.

If they lived in a developed nation it is easy to envision how their life might be different.

A beautiful young mom taking her children to the park in the morning,

the star football player who would soon have girls swooning over him,

or a future cheerleader.

However, in their circumstances, they are merely fighting for their survival. They don’t have the luxury of extracurricular activities, or hours of time and extra money to spend shopping or worrying about how they look.

Their concerns are simple and stem from necessity.

Will there be enough money?

How will they pay for school supplies?

What will they eat tonight?

Two of the children live elsewhere–the oldest son where he can be sponsored for school, and the oldest daughter with her grandmother, where there is more room than in their one-room home. The family being separated is heartbreaking, but seems to be for the best.

Rita lives with her husband, who works to provide for them, but employment is a struggle and opportunities are sparse.

It is difficult as a parent to feel that you can’t fully provide for your children. Having to sometimes go without the necessities of life which so many throughout the world take for granted is a source of both concern and sadness for Rita.

There is a sense of hopelessness, as Rita relies on the chance that she will one day be able to see her children succeed so that they might care for her.

The bag of groceries we have to give to this family will serve to ease their burdens, only for a short time.

And bring a spark of joy for a moment.

Written by Shalyce Cluff; Photography by Jose Miguel Amaya

Thank you for joining us on this journey!

A Family’s Foundation

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

Thank you for joining us on this journey!

Brief Moments Left for Childhood

Her face is young and beautiful. She looks much like any teen you might see walking store-to-store in the mall or going to the movies with friends. Laila’s life, however, is more complicated than worrying about what outfit she will buy or which movie she’ll be seeing.

Life Differently 5.jpg

In order to care for Laila and her little sister, Laila’s mother works 11 hours a day, six days a week. During this time, Laila is responsible for the household, as well as her 7-year old sister.

Life Differently 2

She ensures her sister is clean, clothed and fed, that her sister is attending school and getting her school work done. She takes care of meals, washes clothes and dishes as well as anything else that might need done during the day. She also has her own schoolwork to complete.

Life Differently 1.jpg

Sometimes, when her mother leaves for work, there is no food in the house for Laila and her sister. Thankfully, they have an aunt close by who helps them out when it is most needed. It is a lot of responsibility for a young girl. It has been especially stressful during the times when her little sister has gotten sick. It would be so much easier if her mother could be home more of the time.

Life Differently 10

Since Laila is helping around the house throughout the week, she attends school on the weekends. She knows school is important and is committed to it. She plans to one day become a police officer. In achieving her goal, she will be able to better help her mother– hopefully allowing them to move into a better home.

Life Differently 30.jpg

When Laila’s mother is home, it is a relief, but not without worry. Laila’s mother has been diagnosed with H. pylori–a painful bacterial infection of the stomach. Too many of Laila’s nights are spent listening to her mother cry out in agonizing pain from her illness. As we talk to Laila, the only time her brave demeanor breaks is when she describes the difficulty of hearing her mother suffer. If local healthcare was better, it is likely that Laila’s mother could be completely healed with antibiotics. As it stands, the medication she has received has proven ineffective. Laila’s hope is that someday she will be able to help her mother receive the care she needs.

Life Differently 31

Sometimes, for short periods of time, Laila is given the opportunity to indulge in the joy and fun of childhood. When her mother is home, and her sister is cared for, she plays soccer with her friends–one of her favorite activities. But these times are few and far between for a young women who should be spending her days learning and enjoying life rather than taking on the burdens of adulthood.

If you meet Laila, you cannot help but admire her. She is filled with fortitude and courage. It is clear that she knows she must continue on and she does so with hope–hope that life will one day be better for herself  and for the rest of her family.

Written by Shalyce Cluff; Photography by Jose Miguel Amaya

Thank you for joining us on this journey!

A Way Out

The Munguía household stands apart from many other homes in their neighborhood. Both the mother and father live in the home, as well as all of their children. They are more prosperous than some, though by no means well off, or even middle class. They have a few comforts many others in their community don’t, made possible because they have electricity.

Electricity provides the luxury of a refrigerator.

And the enjoyment of a radio.

Still, it is relatively little when compared to the typical home in the developed world. Many comforts considered essential in other parts of the world are not even an option for the Munguía’s. The vast majority of even the poorest households in first world countries have regular electricity, running water, and a working toilet. The cost of electricity makes the regular use of it tentative.

There is no running water into their home, and while their metal latrine is nicer than many in the area, it is still little more than a hole in the ground.

The area in which they bathe offers little privacy. The makeshift room is right off the main road and the sheets used to enclose it are transparent.

Like all good mothers, Odilia, worries for her children. She yearns for them to have a better life. Her greatest hope is that they are able to get a good education. She sees education as their path out of poverty.

Odilia and her husband Jose’s employment provides well enough that their two children have so far been able to stay in school. School is not a right, but truly a privilege in their community.

Employment is difficult though. The work is disproportionately strenuous and long for the pay they receive. Jose works seven days a week, earning approximately four dollars a day. Odelia is able to work every fifteen days washing laundry and making approximately three dollars for six hours of washing. However, hard work is better than no work, and much of the time, finding regularly work is one of the biggest challenges.

Like children throughout the world, Odilia’s fourteen-year old daughter, Heidi, thinks about her future. She dreams about what she might achieve. She would like to be a police officer. An education will certainly help, but there are many other obstacles the children will have to overcome to make their way into a life of greater prosperity.

The greatest dream Jose and Odilia have is that their work might be more profitable, their children might get an education and that they might one day have running water. With all their life appears to be lacking in basic necessities, it is not a long wish list.

Written by Shalyce Cluff; Photography by Jose Miguel Amaya

Thank you for joining us on this journey!

The Plague of Addiction

Dunia’s life, like so many others, has been filled with struggle and loss.

At only twelve-years old, Dunia’s mother passed away. The loss weighs on her mind still today. She also morns the loss of her only daughter–Star. Star would be twelve this year. She died at birth.

Unlike hospitals in developed countries, careful explanations and regret for the loss is seldom given to patients here. Doctors are overwhelmed and understaffed. They have little time for the niceties of giving patients comfort and explanations following devastating losses. Their job is one of crisis management, with only the time and capacity to complete the most essential of tasks. Dunia has no idea what went wrong or why her daughter isn’t with her today, but she thinks of her often. She imagines how her life would be different if her daughter had lived.

Today, Dunia lives with her husband Javier and their three sons, eighteen-year old Brian, sixteen-year old Erik and seven-year old Lester.

The lives of those residing in Honduras, vary in many ways from those living in the United States and other first world countries, but there are some aspects of life that cross all cultural boundaries.

For Dunia, like many in countries and cultures throughout the world, her life is plagued by her husband’s addiction as well.

The family earns relatively good money. Dunia, her husband, and their two oldest sons all work. Javier and the boys harvest whatever fruit is in season. Dunia works caring for children. Sadly, much of the money never makes it home.

Unlike many men in the area, Javier has chosen to stay with his family and works hard, but like so many others the world over, his greatest struggle and challenge is an inner demon. Javier eases the pains, burdens and struggles of his life by turning to alcohol. On paydays Javier stays in town and visits the local bars. After weeks of hard work, they are quickly left struggling as much of the money is spent on alcohol rather than living expenses. It is a practice that provides Javier with temporary relief, but leaves his family with ongoing hardship.

Due to the economic loss resulting from addiction, both Brian and Erik had to leave school after sixth grade and begin working. Lester is able to attend school, only because of his brother’s income. Brian would still like to return to school and become an engineer. He has not resigned himself to a life spent working in the field, but contents himself working alongside his brother for now.

Dunia dreams of a kitchen of her own–with stucco walls and roof. Their current kitchen is makeshift at best, and holds up only tentatively during the rainy season.

However, more than a kitchen, Dunia wishes Javier would overcome his addiction. She is not alone in her struggle. There are many all over the world, in all countries and conditions who face desperation and devastation from the same struggle of a loved one. It is a hard road to travel and a hard sight to see to face addiction in someone you love.

Written by Shalyce Cluff; Photography by Jose Miguel Amaya

Thank you for joining us on this journey!