While I tend to not agree with the bootstrap statement in relation to poverty within the United States, I want to make it clear that this really is not an option here.
The “get off the couch, find a job and work hard” methodology is almost impossible when nearly sixty percent of Nicaraguans find themselves unemployed or underemployed with little work to be found.
We recently received the final papers for our class. Students were supposed to identify and present a conflict in their lives, analyze the conflict using the theories and methods that they learned in class and create a step by step plan for resolving and transforming the conflict.
Many of the conflicts were hopeful. The students were able to identify and implement tools that they had learned to resolve their conflict, but it was hard for me to find hope with the following.
Sergio wrote that over this past semester he has encountered a “very difficult economic problem.” There are eight people in his extended family living together in a small two room home outside of Managua. He shares that not everyone depends on him for economic assistance, “only three.” The little amount of money that he obtains during the week from a small roadside stand selling refreshments and cheese churritos does not cover their “basic necessities.” To cover his costs over this past year, he has taken out a monthly loan of 1000.00 cordobas, equivalent to $40.00 USD. This loan, like many available here in Nicaragua, has a 20% interest rate each month.
He continues by writing, “culturally we are a low-class family, very poor, there are no professionals within our home. We are at a critical point emotionally. However, I continue to look for other opportunities, to better our economic situation.”
The hope that I see here in the people often surprises me. The resilience of individuals and families despite constant let downs and difficulties is something that I don’t quite understand.
Sergio is in his early sixties, a time when many people in the United States begin thinking about retirement and slowing down, but this is not a viable option for him and many in Nicaragua. He has lived in economic poverty for his whole life and yet, he keeps on going. I don’t know if I would continue to have this drive and willpower after so many years of disappointment? What about you?
Please pray and lift up our neighbors, friends, students and those that we interact with on a daily basis here in Nicaragua. This story is incredibly common and their realities are often so harsh. I have much to learn from them!
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve those people throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day, their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give them peace and Joy. Amen
*Sergio gave us permission to share his story. His name was changed to protect his confidentiality.