Hopeless No More

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

We last left off with Brenda and her mother traveling from Albellanas, a small remote village in the northern region of Nicaragua, to Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, with the team from the U.S. to seek medical attention for Brenda’s infection. This was all very new for Brenda and this trip would have a life-changing impact.

Arriving in Managua, part of the team took Brenda and her mother to the hospital where they would begin treatment for the infection on Brenda’s scalp. It would be decided that Brenda should stay in the Managua area for a few months to ensure that the dangerous infection did not return. As the infection began to subside and the bandana spent less and less time on Brenda’s head, something both symbolically and literally beautiful began to happen- Brenda’s hair started to grow back.

Before long, what was once a picture of the hopelessness of extreme poverty, became the most beautiful head of flowing, light-brown hair any of us had ever seen. The restoration of Brenda’s hair was the beginning of a story of powerful tangible hope.

Remaining in Managua to finish her treatment meant that Brenda need somewhere to stay for a few months. Roger, who had himself been given an opportunity to leave Albellanas though for very different reasons, graciously decided to provide the support necessary for Brenda to live at the Casa Bernabe orphanage on the outskirts of Managua. Casa Bernabe was a very familiar place for Roger as it was the exact place to which he moved as a teenager to continue his schooling. Roger never could have guessed that his story would become someone else’s journey in part because of the very blessing he had been given many years before.

During her stay at Casa Bernabe Brenda took entrance exams so that she could continue her education. To everyone’s amazement, Brenda tested extremely high and began class at the Verbo School, a private school funded by the same church that manages the orphanage. While Brenda did receive basic primary school classes in Albellanas, no one could have guessed that she would be so intellectually advanced. Realizing that her daughter had a desire to learn and the opportunity of a lifetime to do so, Brenda’s mother decided that it would be best for Brenda to stay at Casa Bernabe if they would permit it and she so desired. To many on the outside, leaving your child at an orphanage might seem heartless. However, for Brenda’s mother it was a sacrifice of love to give Brenda the opportunity she had never had. What started out as a story of survival suddenly became a story of life changing hope.

This reality was not lost on Brenda. Now recovered from a potentially deadly infection because of a group of people that believed her life mattered, Brenda began to thrive. A young girl who was once ashamed to show her head had become a girl confident that she could do anything with her life. The practical hope given to her through the care of a doctor and the chance to learn had transformed her perspective on what was possible.

I know this is true because of what Brenda has accomplished over the years since that life-changing day. In May of 2016 I visited the Casa Bernabe orphanage with a small group from NicaWorks!, the organization I work with in Nicaragua. On that visit on learned that Brenda was at the top of her class and had been learning English. I could also see it in her eyes as she interacted with her North American friends. No longer worried about her most basic practical needs, Brenda was truly living. I do not know what the future holds for Brenda, but my guess is that it is bright.

Check back in next week for another story practical hope.

– James Belt

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