The faith to teach

When I first met Rosy her life seemed so bleak. Life’s difficulties and painful events had left her feeling depressed and hopeless. Among other things, there was simply not enough money to provide for her sick parents and younger brother. With nothing left over for education, Rosy could see no way out. Growing up in a slum in Kolkata has many, many challenges, and as the oldest child, supporting the family rested firmly on her shoulders.

When my friend Ritika introduced us we immediately bonded. As we talked – a spark of hope – it became obvious that Rosy longed to teach! There was a Christian campus just outside Calcutta and we prayed that she would be accepted. When the acceptance letter arrived a few months later we were overjoyed! Together we prepared for this new purpose in her life and she went off to school with huge determination.

RosyRecently I received this letter from Rosy:

“I am over joyed that God has fullfill my dream and I am very thankful to dear Brenda who stood with me in prayer and money support and also I want to thank Ritika and family for their guidance in my life.  I am so thankful to Jesus who listend my prayer and I could over come through many trial in my life. Today I am so proud to hold FIRST CLASS CARTIFICATE for a teacher degree! ONCE AGAIN THANK YOU FOR ALL WHAT YOU HAVE DONE FOR ME! Please pray for me continually that I am get Job soon and help my family, my father is in sick bed he not able to do any work, THANKS.”

I cannot find adequate words to express the fulfillment and joy I feel to see the outcome of investing in this young woman! Her faith and hard work have now given her this proud smile! She hopes to teach in a Christian School near the family home in the slum so that she can continue to care for her family.

“Never again a child on the streets.”

That’s the motto of Los Quinchos, one of the organizations that has long supported the dire needs of children in Nicaragua: Nunca mas un niño en la calle.

Managua_empty staring eyes

I last visited Managua in 2009 and shared the story of La Chureca. Even now, the acrid, burning smells and sights of ‘garbage living’ make me wince in memory.

Managua_scavenging the meat load Managua_young boy pokes head out of his home as we walk by

Imagine having to scavenge for your food through the loads dumped by meat trucks from nearby businesses: outdated meats from grocery stores, only food good enough for the dump.

Earlier this year, the Spanish aid agency AECID provided the funding to seal off the dump, establish a recycling plant and provide housing for some of the families. The city dump was renamed Bajos des Acahualinca.

It’s hard to believe the reports, and I long to go back and see the changes for myself, but according to ProNica:

“…the sea of shacks and families raking through trash has been replaced by a recycling plant; the once smoldering piles of trash have been compacted and covered with dirt. Only pieces of cement are left where the acres of trash once stood.”

The changes have brought about other needs, as Carlos Vida, International Coordinator for Los Quinchos, reports. Children are vulnerable; the drugs and violence and abuse have not disappeared, they have merely been moved along.

As with so many projects to provide a way out of poverty, it’s about a long-term commitment to empowering people through education.

Slum school

outside the school room in Calcutta slum

This is an alleyway that leads through the everyday lives of families who call the slums of Calcutta, home. Mothers washing clothes right outside their doors and hanging up their colourful fabrics to flutter at you as you walk past their huts. Girls helping to prepare the ingredients for the next meal – chopping up onions, or sifting through rice to make sure there are no bugs or anything else that shouldn’t be eaten. Children scooting past, drumming on anything worthy of noise-making with the army of sticks that they carry, chasing after flea-bitten animals. Young mothers going about their business, young babies strapped to their backs.

Slum school alley way Slum school washing day

And everywhere the smell that – once experienced – never lets you go. Nothing compares to open sewage, stenching relentlessly in the unbearable heat of the day, in competition with those food-cooking fragrances, laundry-day dampness, bodies and animals vying for space…

It was just another day, heading to school in the slum. Knowing that a dozen or more eager faces awaited us in the little 10’x10’ school room. In this environment it’s hard to imagine smiling faces, but I see them – every time. This is where they live and where they survive, and seeing the smiles in the eyes and across the mouths of those children each time I step into the classroom, that’s they joy of learning for me.

my best times...on the floor.