Waiting and hop ...still...
That word is an interesting word in Spanish: esperanza. It means not only 'hope' but also 'waiting'. We seem to do a lot of waiting here, as is the Nicaraguan culture around time. We always seem to be waiting for buses to arrive, for boats to leave, for people to turn up for work on time, for people to act on their promises, or for festivities to commence. And with the heat being so oppressive, the things you do and accomplish are always tempered with the Nica cultural nuance 'manana': that is, 'ah it's too hot, we'll do it tomorrow'.
Living here we have to temper our western drive to get things done, and just sit and wait a little more. There might be some wisdom in that, but sometimes for us it is a bit of a struggle especially when the Board of Directors cancel meetings, when some of our workers turn up late, or money has not arrived or is limited so a program in our Casa can't run, or when we plan something and the kids don't show because the school has changed their schedule that day and are having classes. All part of living in a new and different culture where things change constantly, the pace is slower. Somewhere in it all we learn about being flexible and maintaining hope in the waiting.
As I write I am sitting in the local park, watching people go about their daily routine: there are school children walking to school, labourers constructing new 'tiendas' in the name of progress (Did you know it was an election year?? Like in Australia the dominant party are making it clear how they are improving things not just in Ometepe but also right throughout Nicaragua), and people just passing through. There is life and movement. Sometimes I just wander: what sustains them? What is their esperanza, their hopes and dreams? We have just had the Olympics, and we all know the hopes and dreams of the athletes. No doubt it was big in Australia, particularly our apparent failure to achieve the great hope of gold. But in Nicaragua the Olympics didn't rate a mention. That kind of hope is irrelevant here; it's not really sustaining when the constant struggleis survival. Living in the third world one really does get a sense of perspective as to what is worth waiting and hoping for.
Our hopes and dreams for Si a La Vida are progressing really well. Our Casa with the children continues to flourish and even though we have the occasional problems with staff (sometimes they turn up 30 mins late, or sometimes don't turn up at all) the system and structure and work with the kids is solid and working. We are seeing remarkable transitions with the children. For example, Harry (not his real name) has been diagnosed by our psychologist as having multiple learning issues and disorders. He is behaviourally highly erratic, teases other children, finds controlling his emotions difficult and has learning issues. Not surprising really given he lives with a friend of his grandmother in a run down shanty house, his mother having abandoned him and his father unknown. Huge issues! When we first started with Harry his behaviour was near uncontrollable, but yesterday I was in class with him and he was doing his home work, and he said: 'Margarita, I have finished can I do some art?' And I said, 'Yes of course if you have finished your work, but right now I am just helping someone get organised, can you just sit and help Manuel ( who is younger and can't read) and read a book and wait quietly'. He took a book sat and read and waited. A miracle. In our prevention program all of our children are dealing with some sort of trauma, but we are about building capacities, self esteem, building empathy and respect so that they have esperanza!! Hope.
In the Finca, Mart is progressing well with the three micro enterprise ideas he has running. It is slow work, but the main thing at the moment is the renovating of the buildings and then getting volunteers to stay. We have people staying at the moment which is wonderful and another man arrived yesterday and said he would like to stay and volunteer. Slowly we are developing this work, with the aim of generating income for our work with children at risk. Hope.
All of this is our hope in waiting. We feel incredibly fortunate to be here, really thrilled with the progress and we have been able to achieve, though at times, it is incredibly frustrating and draining. Things don't move quickly, we seem to be always waiting, and we are truly learning the wisdom of the saying: patience is a virtue. Must have been someone living in Latin America who first coined this. Or maybe we could say: we are learning the true gift of hope in the waiting.
Must say that we have been fortunate too with our health, though I think some time I had Chikungunya (a type of mosquito infection like Dengue) and Mart has been unwell recently with a mosquito infection of some sort, probably Zika, and, as they say here 'Gracias a Dios', after a month of being a bit tired and listless he is nearly back to full health though still not quite right. Apart from that, we are doing okay. We are looking forward to a break and a rest from the heat and all the bites we get daily from mozzies and ants!! They are the worst as they last for days and itch like crazy.
Please continue in your prayers and thoughts for our work here. It means a lot to us. Remember the Christmas gift cards. And may you all find hope in your waiting: esperanza!