Help me go barefoot to support the kids of La Chureca
This past spring break I traveled to Managua, Nicaragua with a group from the University of Virginia's Nicaraguan Orphan Fund. During the week we spent a majority of our time working with kids in La Chureca.
La Chureca is simply Managua’s city dump. More than that, however, it is a working and living community. The people of La Chureca earn their living by sifting through the trash in search of recyclables, and they even live in the dump itself. The extreme pain and poverty in this community is unimagineable. However, despite the detrimental conditions within the dump I experienced some of the most intense love and joy.
On the second day in Managua we took some kids from the school in La Chureca to a swimming pool. It was amazing to see the amount of joy this little excursion to a swimming pool brought the kids. Swimming pools, at least to me, were always a normal part of my childhood summers. However, for these kids it was something special that would potentially grow into one of their most cherished memories. It was on this day that I met Kathy. She is the little girl In my profile picture. She was eight years old and I spent the day playing with her in the kiddy pool. The whole time she had the biggest smile on her face.
The next day we went into La Chureca and spent the day at the school reading and hanging out with the kids. I looked for Kathy, who at eight should be in school. She wasn't there. I asked some girls I had seen the day before where she was. They said she was working in the dump with her mom and wasn't able to come to school today. Hearing this broke my heart.
Luckily, when we went to the feeding center that day she was there. The feeding center is the only food a lot of these kids get to eat in a day. The second she saw me she jumped into my arms and gave me the biggest hug. I was glad she was able to leave the dump long enough to have a meal.
Throughout the rest of the week I saw Kathy three more times. She came to school one day while I was there and took me around showing me her classroom, her homework and her playground. Another time we were sitting at the feeding center waiting for the food to be finished and I asked her, in broken Spanish, if she would like me to do her hair. It seemed that she hadn't combed it in days. At eight my mom or dad combed my hair everyday. I slowly combed my fingers through her hair to get out all the knots and then braided it. When I told her I was done she ran her hands across the braid and smiled and hugged me. She told me she had never had her hair in a braid.
The rest of the time at the feeding center we sat down with her siblings and talked. I had a hard time following the conversation since my Spanish is mediocre, but I began to feel that simply sitting there with her on my lap was enough. Just having someone take time out of their day to listen to her was enough.
At this moment it was clear to me that all these kids really want is love. They wanted someone to take the time to braid their hair. They wanted to show off their school work. These kids wanted someone to make them feel like they matter. Me, a "gringa" (Nicaraguan slang for American), was able to give this to her. I realized my broken Spanish was enough. I was able to show her someone cared without having to really say anything.
We have decided to have our 3rd annual “Barefoot Week” for Nicaragua, raising money for La Chureca. The idea is that we will spend a week walking around Grounds without shoes, just as many of the children of La Chureca do every day. We hope to truly understand the meaning of compassion by suffering alongside these beautiful children. The goal is to raise awareness as people see us walking around and to raise money as we ask people to sponsor us to do so. This week will take place from Monday April 16th to Friday April 20th. I would greatly appreciate your support in this endeavor.
Every little bit helps.
Thank you in advance for any donations you can give for this amazing cause!