I’ve spent four weeks in Nicaragua and have already fallen in love with the country, despite my run ins with hongos, parasites, and various other health problems one might encounter when in a tropical country.
More than a week ago I arrived in San Marcos, a quaint town full of life but begging for improvement. It is far better off than many towns, considering it has various medical care, a few coffee shops, pharmacies, and a market place, not to mention it is somewhat safe. This isn’t to say that there is not a high level of poverty…as in other towns; San Marcos is chalked full of stray dogs, children who beg in the park, people without shoes, and thin faces which show hard work with little to show for it.
The cycle of violence and neglect is vicious…and is not only reflected on people, but on animals as well. A man abuses a woman, and the woman then yells at her children and kicks her dog. The father may get fed up with his family responsibilities and leave, pressuring the mother to provide for her children. Many mothers in extreme poverty prostitute their daughters to make a few extra Cordobas. Several of the girls I am working with have been put in this situation. It’s incredible that these girls are motivated enough to go to school, do their homework, and still have the energy to smile and play. The spirit of children is unlike anything else.
The day I arrived the children welcomed me with open arms, wondering who I was, where I was from, if I liked Nicaragua. Many of the girls remembered me from the day I visited, and dove into my arms as might a long lost friend who hasn’t seen me for years. From the second day on it appeared as if I had known the girls for years. They all crave love and attention, considering they have two adults who live with them, who are unable to give sufficient amounts of awareness to all thirty girls.
The same goes for the sixty boys in the program. Every day this week I’ve found various little boys say, “MARGARITA HOLA!!” I’m ashamed because I haven’t memorized all of their names, but in time I will come to learn them!
It’s hard to realize that 90 percent of these children have been molested, abused, and/or neglected. All of them possess incredible potential and merely want to be cherished. It’s incredible how easily they pick up English and other various languages, like Italian. Many can rattle off Rúben Dario poems they memorized in school, one of which is named “Margarita.” With every new fifth grader I meet, I hear the poem Margarita. By the end of the summer I will know the poem by heart just because the kids recite it so much.
There is a huge necessity for books and reading practice. Much of my time has been spent reading with the kids, sounding out words as we go.