At the beginning of July, we spent a week in Nicaragua with Empowerment International and The Giving Lens. We spent one morning photographing Alexander’s family as they prepared for their day. It was an incredible privilege to be invited into their home. What a beautiful family!
The family lives in the heart of the barrio. Their home is built with walls of scrap metal, broken bits of wood, and heavy fabric. It is open to the elements – which means they get a nice cross-breeze when there’s a breeze at all – and that they must live with the bugs, heat, wind, and rain. The floors are dirt, and they use bed sheets to divide their small residence into rooms. Their roof is made of corrugated metal, and there are holes in it that let the rain in. They have a couple of light bulbs, a single tap with cold water, and an old TV. There’s very little privacy.
The front of the house is dedicated to a tiny storefront. There’s a hand-written sign that lists items and prices. This is where the family earns their keep.
Alexander is already awake when we arrive early in the morning. With matches and a plastic bag for kindling, he starts a fire.
His little sisters linger in bed just a little longer… then it’s time to get up and ready for school.
They bathe in their underwear, since there is no private place in the house. They use a bowl to pour water over their heads…
…and Juana helps Eveling wash her hair with soap. This is a well-rehearsed routine, and they are quick about getting the job done. The water is chilly, since they have no way to heat it for a warm bath.
The girls dry off with tattered towels, and pull their school clothes from a sack. Mama helps Eveling get dressed for school.
She combs the girls’ hair, and puts in little pony tails. She is patient and gentle with them, smiling quietly and hugging the small ones.
Breakfast is meager. A bit of powdered milk and some dry bread. The children dip their bread in their milk to soften it. Luckily, they will have a small breakfast at school later in the day. There isn’t enough to fill them up.
After breakfast, we asked the children what they wanted to be when they grew up. Sweet little Juana says she might want to be a police officer. Eveling and Genero aren’t sure. Bernardo says maybe he’ll be a photographer! We think that’s a great idea! ;)
And then it’s time for them to go. They are smiling and happy this morning. Ready to face the day.
…to be continued…