Monday, May 7, 2007

The Luxury of Family

Yesterday I went to mass and the first baptism of Maria Fernanda. Her mom, Miraim, is 21. She grew up at NPH and when she first got pregnant as a teenager, she was taken in by a couple of retired Americans who live in Costa Rica and Willy was born there. Three years later she had another son, Donald, and now, three years after that, she has Maria.

I don’t know where to begin with Miriam. Some nights, she and I sit on the porch chairs, rocking in the dark heat, talking as well as we can with my halting spanish. She is sweet and sad. We talk about general things. She always tells me that I’m pretty and certainly don’t look 28! She pats Maria on the back rhythmically with her rocking until Maria falls asleep.

Willy now lives at Casa Asis, the babies house of NPH as he is only six, Donald lives with his paternal grandparents and soon, and before Maria turns four months old, she will move to Casa Asis as well. Miriam has been offered a job in Costa Rica with the same couple as before, but can’t work, earn money and care for her children at the same time.

Hiro grew up at NPH. He and his girlfriend are now pregnant with their first baby. The same couple in Costa Rica have generously offered him a job as well (as I’m sure you’ve gathered already, good jobs are a challenge to come by in Nicaragua). This means that his girlfriend will live and have her baby with her grandmother in Granada, while Hiro works and lives hours away.

The first time I heard about these arrangements, I was taken aback. I know in my head things are different here, but in a place where Catholicism is the rule, I expected keeping families together would be the priority.

Ahhh, my pampered first world expectations. Food, that’s a higher priority. Shelter, that’s a higher priority. Having enough to eat and a safe place to live are something I take for granted. And honestly, probably always will.

Relationships aren’t inherently easy in first world countries. But our worries are luxurious in comparison to most of the world. We worry about things like good communication, about intellectual challenges, about attraction and inspiration.

I will never truly understand having to choose between love and life. And I am incredibly blessed and grateful for my ability to be ignorant of this.

If you’d like to understand the 200 million migrant workers in the world a little better, please read this -

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