Where Strength and Beauty Overcomes

The house and yard are well-manicured, perhaps better cared for than any seen in the village.

There is a charm and beauty that does not often show itself in areas oppressed by poverty.

The cleanliness and order bring with it a sense purpose and peace, a relief from the circumstances that surround this home.

In every detail you can see that someone spends their time and energy to maintain the simple charm of this home to nourish beauty around them.

Elmedina is a testament to the ability to make the best of your circumstances, to overcome your struggles and to continue pressing on despite continual and persistent adversity.

Elmedina lives with her son Pedro. They pay rent by caring for the home in which they live. Pedro never finished school, but works in masonry and brings home what he earns to care for himself and his mother.

In comparison to many, Elmedina and Pedro fair well financially, but that is just a part of Elmedina’s story. As quickly catches the eye, Elmedina suffers from a significant medical problem.

For 25 years she has suffered with a painful goiter in her throat. In the last two years it has become more inflamed. She takes thyroid pills, but it has done little to provide relief. In any first world country, this is an issue that would be quickly resolved with a surgery, but for Elmedina, that is not an option. Instead it is a constant reminder of the discomfort and lack of resources that poverty yields.

Her medical problems and lack of resources are only a part of Elmedina’s story. Elmedina has known severe loss, loss that can be crippling if one allows it to be. Elmedina is a mother of 10, but only Pedro remains with her. While several of her children have made their own lives, one of her daughters was taken, when she was just born, by her former partner and never seen again. Another child died at birth, and one at only 9 months old from meningitis. A third died at age 29 after he was crippled by and eventually succumbed to mental health struggles.

Though a story of tragedy, Elmedina has instead chosen to make her story one of beauty and reprieve. She stands as an inspiration to keep moving forward, to keep trying and to spread goodness as you do.

Emeldina passed away in November, 2019.

Written by Shalyce Cluff; Photography by Jose Miguel Amaya

If Elmedina’s story has touched your heart, please consider donating so that we might continue to help individuals like her.

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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!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!