This last week, I had the extreme pleasure of accompanying a group of seven other World Vision volunteers to Nicaragua to get a better look at how World Vision conducts their development work. What an experience! Today, I would like to tell you the story of one family we met along the way.
We had driven quite a ways down a bumpy, dusty dirt road surrounded by unfamiliar vegetation and homes that could easily fit onto my screened porch. Chickens, a scrawny dog and a pig greeted our arrival when the van finally stopped at our destination. The grandparents, their seven sons and the son’s families, occupied smalls homes set in a row on the dusty property. Between the seven sons were thirteen children and more, obviously on the way.
The family occupation is basket weaving, which consists of purchasing long sticks of bamboo from a local grower. The sticks are transported back to the family’s home where they use a machete to separate the bamboo into the three layers needed to weave baskets. This step takes half of the day, but once it’s complete the weaving process, which takes about 20 minutes per basket, can begin. The finished product is loaded onto the same horse-drawn cart that delivered the bamboo sticks and finished baskets are carted to the market in Granada, a 45 minute drive by car. The raw bamboo costs the family just over $7, from which they craft 7 baskets that they hope to sell, yielding $50 for their day’s labor. I don’t know about your family, but my family of four can easily spend $50 at lunch; this $50 must cover the expenses for the family of 29 people.
The children absolutely stole my heart. There was one boy in particular who was especially outgoing and soon held my attention in a great peek-a-boo game. Within minutes, this game had turned into playing soccer and then tag. Most of the children were barefoot and dust covered. They thought our sunglasses strange and even more so, the Bandaid I applied the toe of my new friend, who received a cut chasing me across the separated bamboo.
For my part, the sight of the children taking a rest from our game to dip their cups into the large drums of clean water behind the house, the outdoor latrine and the chickens following the children into their homes were all foreign sights. When I’d guessed one of the older girls to be 7, I’d adjusting my expectations to account for the smaller statue of the Nicaraguan people. She was 10.
I asked one of our World Vision hosts if this was a typical living situation for sponsored children in Nicaragua and emphatically nodding, he stated that yes, living conditions in the area where we had visited were very good – as we had seen. In the north, where the development work was in a much earlier phase and food scarcity was a bigger issue, living conditions would not be as good. World Vision has helped establish community wells so that families can fill their water drums and cart those drums back to their homes without having to travel more than 1-2 kilometers. They have helped build and support schools so that all children, even those in rural areas, can have access to education. When these children became malnourished, they worked with the mothers to help train them in nutrition and helped them get necessary staples. It was evident that sponsorship dollars were going far in Nicaragua – far in brining basic necessities, safety, security and opportunity. I appreciated the contentment the people we met with felt over having access to these necessities and felt a pang in envisioning my own life of abundance.
So, why should the American cross the road? To help someone to the other side. To help someone have access to BASIC necessities: water, enough food to keep from malnutrition, access to education, etc. Sponsorship through World Vision is a partnership: we as sponsors work in partnership with governments, other NGOs, the teachers, parents, volunteers and World Vision staff to bring a better tomorrow to places that will never feel the burden of the abundance so many of us live in today. If you’re ready to join this network of good, click here: cause.worldvision.org/Salina