We walked along the dirt pathway, scanning what we were told was an old city dump. Buzzards still circled overhead attempting to stake their claim over the pieces of trash that peeked through the grass and gravel. I had my camera slung around my neck, scanning with curiosity and seeking any picture that I could capture before our short trip was over. Homes, rather more like erected shelters, were constructed with bits and fragments of debris. We were entering a society of people trying to carve out a life from these ruins. Kids giggled and followed behind us, curious but yet enjoying the company of guests which I’m sure was rare and infrequent.Trying not to let my heart and mind employ the thoughts of what lie underneath the dirt which the government used to cover up this city dump, I held my breath and giggled back at the little ones following behind. And for a brief moment, I stopped, closed my eyes and envisioned this dump, these ruins as a beacon of hope.
Our journey to Leon was much like the process of our other engagements. So much work goes into finding, deciding, and actually starting a new project. A new country, a new culture, and the overwhelming need are weighed and discussed heavily. Before traveling, we did much research on economic and social conditions, the role that the local government plays in meeting the needs of its people, and the openness of the country to partner with Christian ministries. In addition we conducted interviews with organizations currently working in the country. All of these ultimately led us to Leon.
Extensive poverty, very few jobs, and a severe shortage of basic resources plague this country; Leon being one of the most desperate. We met with local NGO’s, government Social Services leaders, business men, and local pastors in an attempt to gather and understand what the most critical needs were, particularly pertaining to orphans. This led us to the “squatting community” of displaced people living on the buried dump, who have erected crude shacks out of whatever they could find.
People are displaced in Nicaragua due to rebel violence, extreme poverty due to government sanctions, or no employment opportunities to sustain even the basic needs.
Over the course of our trip, our vision became clear. With the relationships we have built and our NGO status in the process, our desire is to create school with a substantially higher quality of education, to offer medical services and to develop vocational options that can create income for families in poverty. We will also seek to address the growing orphan population through instituting and resourcing a program that will enroll Christian families to provide foster care for children without parents. This is our mission moving forward. Project Hope Worldwide – committed to redeeming defenseless and vulnerable children, providing them hope and opportunity to change the world.