Finding Hope in Unlikely Places: The Children of Nueva Vida

 

 


Finding Hope in Unlikely Places

The Children of Nicaragua’s Nueva Vida Community


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A cluster of children stand huddled against one an


other beside the playground, the bright-eyed smallest toddlers peeking out from between the legs of their older sibling


s.


An


invisible wall seems to hold


them back from approaching us, the thirty-some American teenagers facing them ten feet away. After a fe


w minutes of tense silence, the discomfort dissolves as a few of the more confident members of our group step forward and squat next to the kids, smiling as they nervously engaging with them in broken Spanish. Before we know it, the beautiful children of the Nueva Vida Community are giggling as they press their small hands into ours, eagerly leaping onto our shoulders and laughing as we chase after them through the field nearby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children of the Nueva Vida (or “New Life”) Neighborhood come from families whose hom 


es were deva


stated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Their families were given a 


tarp and a plot of land in this community dire


ctly following the d


isaster in 


order to essentially start their lives over from scratch. Thirteen years later, with the aid of several organizations, the dusty roads are now lined with well-built, tin homes on either side. A brightly painted school, complete with a tall cinder-block wall, provides the children with a protected place to grow and learn. Various feeding centers have been established, providing kids with a meal every day and relieving families of the burden of providing food for their children. A small, open-porched church, complete with a playground and basketball court, has been built as a safe-haven for the children of the community to come to. This community has emerged as a place of hope and perseverance in the face of desolation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was overwhelmed by the trust these children displayed--despite the difficulties they face on a day-to-day basis--that I was sure would cause them to be skeptical and even afraid of us. One boy in particular yanked at my hand, tilted his head to the side with a smirk, and tapped his shoulders, anticipation glowing from beneath his chestnut eyes. I was stunned that he wanted me, who he had never met before, to hold him in my arms--to love him. It was the desire of these children to be loved that hit me hardest. Their tender, affectionate gestures--an arm reaching out for a hand to hold, fingers gently placing a flower in my hair, a peal of laughter filling the dusty air--all whisper of a higher craving to be cared after and beloved as they deserve to be. 

Later that afternoon, we huddled into the porch of the Church a time of sharing with the older teens of Nueva Vida, in which we were able to share our testimonies and offer words of encouragement to one another. One of our translators, Maruicio, grew up in the Nueva Vida community and spoke to the community about persevering despite the broken world they live in. When he said, “Even though you may live under a dark, starless sky, that doesn’t mean you can’t dream,” my eyes welled with tears as I stood, breathless and suffocated by the faith that was pulsating over the quiet village.