Tucked away in the remote highlands is a one room 12X12 foot wooden structure. Marcelina and her six children call this humble dwelling home. When we arrived for the first food delivery only the three younger children, six-year-old identical twin girls and a 2-year-old boy with solemn brown eyes, were there with their mom. The three older children are boys aged 10-16 who were all in school. When asked why the girls weren’t in school Marcelina sadly replied that they couldn’t go to school because they didn’t have shoes.
The wooden structure is situated on agricultural property with tomato plants and various vegetables being grown for commercial use. The family doesn’t own the property and they are being allowed to live there. Marcelina is unable to work because she is caring for her children. She doesn’t receive any child support and essentially has no income. The electricity that is available to them comes from an extension cord connected to her mother’s house about 100 meters away.
It is obvious that Marcelina values education and encourages her children to go to school. Her oldest son lives with a relative who resides closer to the high school he attends. The younger brother attends the same high school but, because he prefers to live at home with his mother and siblings, he has to get up at four each morning to catch two buses to get there on time. The 10-year-old son attends the local school which is still a long trek from his home. Measures will be taken to insure that the two girls, Raquel and Daniela, have shoes to wear to school when the next term begins.
In spite of what would be for us dire living conditions, the girls and little boy seem happy. The girls gave us a lively tour of the trail between their house and their grandmother’s house through the sugar cane. At one point Raquel snatched a piece of fruit from a sour orange tree and ate it like candy. It makes one pucker just to think of it. The little boy, Esteban, had a broken cell phone that he held up to his face like he was taking photos of us. He never changed his serious demeanor.
This is another one of our families that truly benefit from the food supplement received from Buenos Vecinos. Hopefully, families who live in such poverty at the very least will not have to worry about having food for their children. It is a goal to help our families to encourage their children to pursue education as a means of improving their lives. Marcelina is a good example of a mother who places importance on education and the future when her older sons go to school when they could be working to provide income to the family.