My name is Yvonne and I sponsor Sandra. In 2012 I did my first trip with Believers Fellowship from the USA to visit Ushpa Ushpa, in Cochabamba. At the time, Sandra’s family was living very close to El Buen Pastor Church and the community center of Loma Pampa. As many activities would happen in either of these places we saw Sandra’s family a lot when the children participated in activities or were wondering in the streets.
The oldest brother of Sandra, Ariel was sponsored and some fellows of our church went to visit his family. I still keep pictures of that encounter. Sandra was very little due to her diagnosed condition of Down syndrom. Her mom, Mrs. Elsa was carrying two little children in her arms. The adults in the family speak almost exclusevely quechua (I speak Spanish but there’s always someone of FH interpreting for us). During that visit, when we asked about the father Mrs. Elsa answer that he works far from the área. Then she pointed out that things in their marriage were not very well when she said: “he does not beat me too much”.
The next year I started sponsoring Sandra. Since then I had the great joy of visiting her every year. As there are no learning programs for children mentally hadycaped and she understands only some Spanish, she stays home. When the family was living in Loma Pampa there was an old lady at home (one of their grand mothers I think), who would take care of them whil Mrs. Elsa was working but frequently Sandra was seen walking alone in the Street. I always felt sad for her, because of her condition I consider her more vulnerable than other children. I always pray that God would protect her.
Her oldest brother, Ariel, quit school and as a consequence he was removed of FH’s program. In some of my visits I did not see him, and it was the other brother of Sandra who would take care of her and her two little sisters Nilda and Vilma. The younger brother did not studied for a while (for a reason I don’t know), but being only seven or eight years old he used to take care of the three little sisters.
The visits to Sandra’s family were always harder to me than others because of the family situation. In my humble opinion, physical poverty is not the worst that someone can suffer- and for sure this family makes very little money. What broke my heart was the spiritual and familiar brokeness- how the children would hit to each other, how the mother had that choking look and hopeless feeling.
In 2016 I learnt that the family had move. Mrs. Elsa broke with her couple, they sold their house and she was renting a place up in the hills. They have only one room and one bed for six people. The oldest son, Ariel was not at home in any of the visiys and his mom said that she was affraid he was in a gang. None of the children were studying.
Mrs. Elsa looked out of her mind. She asked one of the FH facilitators if I was the sponsor. (Well now, I don’t consider much of myself, but I was surprised that she did not recall me. I think it was because of the trauma that she went through or for sight problems). There was a total neglect of the children and the household. It was obvious that she was at the border of her strength. She asked me for money. The facilitator was new and it seemed that she did not know how to react. Eventhough I do not speak Quechua, I understood what Mrs. Elsa was saying. I told the mom that I support through FH and the projects that they offer.
I don’t want to extend my story too much, therefore I don’t want to give more details about the brokeness observed in this family. When we left, my trip mates said that it was one of the hardest visits we did during the years traveling to Uspa Uspa. Usually, we have seen improvement in the families of the community, but in this one there was a significant declain. As the family only had a few onions, a team member, Sandy offered to buy some groceries. We bought rice, nuddles, powder milk, and frying oil. We came back the next day and left the food with the children because their mom was working outside.
I passed the year praying for the family. Before I used to focus on Sandra, but I turned to pray for Mrs. Elsa. As head of the family she has a great responsability and little support. I also started addressing to the whole family in my letters instead of just to Sandra. I hoped that Mrs. Elsa would hear some words of support and root her identity in Christ. The last letter I received before I came to visit in April was written by Ariel. It made my heart happy.
This last visit was different to others. Sandy, the American sister, decided to sponsor Sandra’s two little sisters. All the family was waiting for us. Mrs. Elsa came out to greet me and she kissed and hugged me like never before. The children did not hit to each other too much. Ariel, now a 15 year old young man was present and told me that he was working, but he also helps his mom with the little ones. The younger brother studies now. Mrs. Elsa asked me for money again but this time the facilitator was a mature man very familiar with the FH program. He spoke with her in Quechua, and I followed the main point, and he explained to her about the trainings to women who would like to start an enterpreneurship and the family gardens Project. In this ways, he said, she would be able to make more money and have more food growing a garden in her land lot. She agreed and I hope that she will do it.
After the visit some of my American friends talked about the economic poverty of this family with sadness, but they did not know them before. From my side and my family’s even with inestability they look better than in past years. I still pray that God would protect this family, that each one of them will know Him as his Lord and Savior, that Elsa would have the strenght to keep going forward, that they would protect each other, that God may protect them, that God would providefor their economic and emotional needs, that they would have hope in the future, and that God will have all they glory for the work that only Him can perform in them.