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

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A Mother’s Worries

In the community where Keila lives, she and her partner do better than many, but that does not mean they are wealthy or that things are easy for them.

With two able adults to provide income, they have a distinct advantage over many of their neighbors. Keila’s partner sells, Atoles, a hot drink with a corn base, and makes 1,000 lempiras a week. He works 11 hours a day. Although typical for many in this part of the world, these earnings pale in comparison to that of any individual in America. His wage is equivalent to $42 a week–what someone working at the lowest minimum wage in America would make in less than one 8-hour day, and what someone with an average American salary would make in less than two hours of work.

Keila occasionally is able to work harvesting sweet potatoes in the field. When she does, she adds approximately $29 to their weekly income–a significant amount.

They also have chickens that provide them with a sustainable food source–something anyone in the community would be grateful to have.

Looking at their home, you would never know they are among the more prosperous of their community in terms of their income.

The home is a compilation of various materials. The walls are part sheet metal, part sticks, rocks and dirt.

Used cotton sheets make up parts of the walls, as well as part of the roof. Their floor is dirt. As is typical of homes in the area, their home has no electricity, no water and no latrine.

Possibly the greatest challenge with the home concerns the family’s 4-year old daughter, who suffers from respiratory issues.

Though the house in which they live is better than nothing, they practically live out in the open. Their home is sorely lacking when it comes to providing protection from environmental elements. The area in which the family lives is windy which generates a great amount of dust.

The dust, along with smoke from cooking their daily meals on an open wood stove, exacerbates the breathing issues, from which her daughter suffers. Exposure to the cold night air does not help either. Creating an environment conducive to healthy respiration is a nearly impossible task in these conditions.

Among the many concerns Keila is likely to have, her daughter’s health issues may be the greatest. She has already known the depth of sorrow that comes with losing children. Before her daughter was born, Keila lost a set of twins when she was 6 months pregnant.

Though only 23-years old, an age at which time when many Americans are living life large, finding themselves, and planning for their future, Keila’s face reflects the difficulties of life and the loss she has experienced.

Keila says her life is happy, and she truly does find great joy in her daughter, but happiness is not reflected in her face. If Keila had the resources, she would save up for medication for her daughter and start a business selling bread. Both desires would improve the conditions of her life, but most likely, only minimally. Those wishes might generate a reflection of happiness to her face, but if they did not, they would certainly minimize the strain of her impoverished living.

Written by Shalyce Cluff; Photography by Jose Miguel Amaya

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