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!

The Power of Determination

A single wooden post represents little for most of us, but for Miriam it is a statement of her character, a sign of her hard work and a testament to her determination.

Miriam was given help in building the brick part of her home which she shares with her two children and an unrelated older woman, but she does not rely on others to improve her life situation.

Miriam, single-handedly expanded her house to include a room made of wood and sheet metal in addition to the main brick structure. She hung clothing lines to dry her family’s clothes.

Unable to purchase a table, she built one, made of tree branches and mud.

Miriam’s desire for cleanliness is clear in how she cares for her home. Items are organized and put away as well as possible.

The TV on display is simply a decoration. It doesn’t work as they have no electricity to run it on. It represents hope that one day Miriam and her family will have the simple luxury of sitting down in front of the television to rest and watch a movie together in their home.

The dirt floor is maintained by sweeping it and spraying down the dirt to minimize dust.

Miriam works diligently to make things nice for herself and her children, but there are unending obstacles to keeping her home clean and sanitary.

It is a constant struggle to not only keep the cold air at bay, but also to keep bugs and other critters from coming into the home. Stuffing cracks and crevices with whatever they can find or anything not be being used at the time, though insufficient, is the best solution Miriam has found.

Local children, many without latrines of their own, urinate and defecate in the area behind her home–neither pleasant to smell nor to clean up.

Miriam is the mother of two children, the first born when she was still a child herself at just sixteen years old. Ten year old Elvis is able to attend school, but Miriam cannot afford the cost of school for four-year old Christofer to begin kindergarten.

Four-year old Christofer holds some of the toys delivered to the children during a visit from Life Differently staff and volunteers.

Despite having little herself, Miriam extends help to others. A 75-year old woman, whose children threw her out of their house, lives with Miriam and her children.

As a child, at just five-years old, Miriam lost her own mother to a heart attack. She and her sister did the best they could for themselves in the children’s home in which they grew up, but the repercussions of this loss last until today. She was unable to finish her high school education as it was more important to work to provide for herself. She still hopes to one day be able to finish her high school work and then study medicine at the university.

Miriam’s story is a bit different than others. Despite facing many of the same struggles as others living in poverty, Miriam remains hopeful. Her story leads you to believe that if you work hard enough with what you have, the future may hold a better day. It teaches us that no matter what your circumstances you can improve them.

Written by Shalyce Cluff; Photography by Jose Miguel Amaya

Thank you for joining us on this journey!