The little girl disappeared behind the corner of the small house. We could hear the key rattling around in the lock. It took a long time to get the door open. A few folks were impatient at the long wait in the hot sun. "The door is new, " I explained, "and it will be a great honor for us to come in through the new front door."
In fact, the whole house was new. For fifteen years the mother had lived in a tiny, ramshackle home made of corrugated tin and cardboard and plastic. Every time it rained, the mother and her little girls and everything they owned got wet. The home had been constructed on part of a tiny lot by an older man who cared for the mother and her daughters like a father would. Because it was built on a shared lot, the home had not received any improvements over the years. Finally, after fifteen years, possession of the property trumped the legal issues and plans were made to improve the house. Men from the community and men from the US sister church joined together to put up a new structure right around the old house. It was NOT an easy task! When the US guys returned home, a solid metal structure was in place. Now, a couple of months later, we stood at the new front door, ready to be welcomed into the finished home.
|Photo taken by Tim Muth|
"I never thought I would have a home like this," the mother said quietly. "I never thought I would make anything of my life. I never thought I could be anybody. I never had a chance to go to school or to study at all. Now I am living my life through my daughters. I never imagined that they could study. Thanks to the scholarship program and to their sponsors they can study and I am living a beautiful life. I am so proud of them. They are doing so well in their studies. I feel proud to have this house, thanks to God and our partnership. When my first daughter was born, the family of the father took her away from me because I was too poor to take care of her. I never see her; she does not know who I am. I have heard that she is a mother now, but I will never see the baby. It's not right to have these things happen to you because you are poor. But now I am very proud to be able to be a good mother."
Everyone was crying. "You have always been a good mother."
The older daughter just started high school. "I am very proud of my mother. She works hard and we do all we can to help her. I am very proud and thankful to be studying. Thank you to all of you and to my sponsors, and give them a big hug from me."
It was time for the girls to do their homework. We shared lots of good-bye hugs. We stood in the street and looked back to see the family smiling smiles filled with pride and hope and possibility, standing in the frame of their new front door.