After seven years of working in the barrio our hearts are more sensitive than ever to the needs and stories of our neighbors, but we are also more careful than ever about our response to their stories. We pray for discernment and wisdom so that we can be used by God in a way that truly helps, supports, encourages and most importantly honors and glorifies Him.
We have recently felt closely connected to the burdens of three widows who have come to us for help--Miss L is one of them.
Greici and I noticed right away the neat hair and white flower girl dress on Rosanna who normally smells strongly of urine and is covered in filth. As we filled out paperwork with our moms we kept a curious eye on Rosanna and her mom, Miss L. We overheard Miss L. tell another mother of how she had given away her youngest daughter and was now looking for a home for Rosanna. We pulled Miss L. aside encouraging her to keep Rosanna and made her promise not to make a move without talking to us first.
Since then we have gone to pray with her several times, there are always tears and deep sadness. The other day when we went we just sat there for a long time in silence. It wasn’t an awkward silence; it was more like the personification of, “weep with those who weep.” We just sat there allowing ourselves to feel her pain. We wonder if she thinks she is dying and is trying to put her affairs in order—her husband died of AIDS six months ago-- or if she is just so desperate to feed and care for her children that she is now looking for other options for each one.
Grieci held the baby in her lap. He was smelly, dirty and sobbing so she suggested a bath to cool him off. During his bucket bath Miss L explained, “He’s just hungry. You see he’s grown up on sugar water because we don’t have money for milk, but some days that is not enough.” Greci asked if they had access to fruit trees, work, family…to all of which the answer was “no”. I sat their praying to myself, “God, tell me what to do. Show me how to help.” I kept hearing the words, “widows and orphans” in my head.
As we prayed with Miss L and her children she cried. She told us she wasn’t crying because she was sad, but because when we pray she feels the presence of God. As we got up to leave Grieci took 70 pesos out of her pocket and said, “This is all I have, but I hope you can cook something today and I’m going to tell my mom you are coming to get guava off our tree. May God supply your every need.”
It was all I could do not to fall into a puddle on the floor right then and there. I knew that 70 pesos (about $2) wasn't only all Greici had in her pocket at the time but ALL Greici had, and she inspired me. As we walked down the rocky path she asked me what we were going to do. She wondered if we could make up a job, something I am accustomed to do, in order to not just give her money on a regular basis. We wondered if Miss L could provide for her children-- if she would keep them.
I decided two things in that moment. First, we would NEVER throw away food again—not in the Reyes house and not in the Girls House-- We will share to the point of sacrifice. The second thing—I’m going to do everything I can to put Miss L and other women like her to work in an effort to keep their children from being sold or given away.
This is my idea/plan—to pay fair trade these women to make beautiful hand- made treasures that can be sold in the DR and abroad. The sale of these items will provide work, confidence and safe homes for children with their moms or in our safe house. Funds raised can also help sustain their education and our safe house. This isn’t an original idea. Others are doing it all over the world, but I’m excited about it. I even have a friend setting up party boxes for anyone who wants to throw a party—Tupperware style—invite your friends, show a video of our work, sell beautiful handmade items, offer cute refreshments, distribute tax receipts and mail funds into New Hope…A total win-win!