I’d like to introduce you to Alison Naomi. Her mom is named Irandi and she is fourteen years old. This isn’t Irandi’s first pregnancy – she had a miscarriage at twelve so Alison was born by Caesarean. That’s tough for such a young teenager. Alison isn’t the only baby to be born to a young mom in this family. Irandi has twin sisters – Ivon who had baby Lupita when she was thirteen and Ibet who gave birth to Kevin at fourteen. Besides these 3 daughters, this family also includes Nasabid, Laurentino, Isabel and little Jose. The 9 of them live with their mom in a one room home made out of tarps. Now that Alison is here, Irandi has gone to live in the next town with her boyfriend and his mom. Laurentino and Jose go to Manos de Amor Casa Hogar each Monday morning so they can attend school and be cared for throughout the week while their mama works 11 hours a day to earn $5 or $6. Isabel who is now twelve has recently decided she no longer wants to live at the Children’s Home – she wants some freedom and she wants to dress ‘sexy’. Although she tells me she is still going to school in her neighborhood I am terrified for her and for her future.
We arrived here in Bucerias on Friday and after stopping at Manos de Amor to say hi, we went to the new store in town to buy a dolly and some baby clothes and headed to San Vicente to meet Alison. As always, Lupita, Kevin and Jose ran out to meet us.
We did not know Irandi and her new baby had moved away but Ivon agreed to help us find her new home. 7 of us piled in the car – and a dog which we kindly removed. It has been rainy season here which means the normally crappy roads are now crappy mud holes and our little car struggled to get through.
The area where Irandi now lives is called Primavera. Kind of ironic that primavera means “spring” in Spanish but it did not feel like a place of new beginnings or growth at all. It is different in that the homes are made of concrete and the one Irandi lives in has 3 rooms instead of 1. The roads are definitely just as bad and poor Azulita (that’s my little blue car) bottomed out in some of the mud and water filled potholes. But eventually we found the complex where this new young family lives and as we got out of the car we yelled for Irandi. We climbed the stairs to the little home and met the cutest baby I have ever seen. She looked healthy although her young mom looked tired and in a lot of pain. One day in the hospital after a C-section seems harsh and Irandi looked worn out. But happy. And proud of her baby. And really happy to see us and share her story with us. 6-year-old Jose lovingly kissed his little niece. Lupita stared in amazement at her new cousin. Kevin ignored it all and wandered outside where he promptly closed his finger in the door of our car – setting off the alarm and screaming down the neighborhood. The idyllic moment was gone and life with a bunch of toddlers resumed. Because they do not own band-aids, Irandi took a piece of Kleenex and tied it over his bloody finger with a string.
After our visit we headed back to San Vicente. Isabel joined us so we had 8 people in our tiny car – a new record! 4 in the front and 4 in the back.
The neighbors laughed and waved and I realize that even though this life doesn’t look at all familiar to me, every person in it is trying to live their best life and my role is just to walk alongside them and let them know they are loved. Before we left I asked Irandi if I could pray for little Alison. I took her two tiny hands in mine and prayed that she would know love, that she would know God, that she would have a hope and a future. Whatever that might look like.
And now another piece of my heart is missing.