Our teams have traveled to La Esperanza for more than a dozen years, and in that time enduring relationships of love and trust have been made between team members and villagers. One such relationship emerged between an anonymous team member and Juana, a widow in the village.
Juana is the adopted mother of Bernabé. Juana has been doing her best to raise Bernabé as a single mom. On each of the anonymous donor’s trips to the Ixil, he would make a point to seek out Juana to give a special word of encouragement.
Bernabé’s Life Seemed Destined for Trouble
In the past few years, Bernabé’s life seemed destined for trouble and this has been a source of great pain for Juana. She prayed for a solution. Bernabé was frequently truant from school and eventually dropped out altogether, had fallen in with a “bad crowd” and was both disrespectful and physically and emotionally abusive to Juana.Bernabé had been in 4th grade for 3 years prior to dropping out.
Fincas are Fertile Ground for Gang Recruitment
Bernabé was traveling to the fincas (plantation farms) to work for periods as long as five months, and fincas are fertile ground for gang recruitment. On Bernabé’s last trip to the fincas, he returned with no money and no explanation. This came at a particularly difficult time for Juana, as she has developed a severe eye condition that causes pain when she is exposed to bright sunlight. This eye condition was making it impossible for Juana to plant or harvest crops.
NFE Recognized This Problem and Devised a Plan
Our Nicolás Fund for Education National Director, Ivan España, recognized this problem and devised a plan. Nicolás Fund for Education began providing an NFE personal tutor for Bernabé to help him catch up with the school that he missed and to mentor him. Bernabé slowly began to benefit from the tutoring but the process was both slow and not without setbacks. Last year, Bernabé finally passed sixth grade!
A New Plan for Bernabé
This year, Ivan came up with a new plan. Ivan’s plan was that, with financial help from the anonymous donor, NFE would pay Bernabé to plant and harvest Juana’s snow peas and that would mean that Bernabé would not have to travel to the fincas for work.
This would also mean that Bernabé would have the opportunity to attend winter school, a four-week program NFE offers for 6th graders to help prepare them for 7th grade.
Bernabé agreed to this plan. Bernabé turned out to be a surprisingly good student in Winter School!
Bernabé Reaps the Fruit of His Harvest
Lo and behold, the harvest came in and Bernabé could feel pride in what he had accomplished for his family. With his money that he earned for planting and harvesting, Bernabé purchased a small transistor radio for Juana. Juana has a deep faith, and when she and Bernabé get up at 5:30 am, Bernabé immediately turns the radio so they can listen to Christian music.
Bernabé has become respectful of Juana, helping with chores, asking her how her day was and telling her about his day. This was a tremendous change from the past couple years when he was sullen or hostile!
Christian Education is Helping Him Establish a Personal Relationship with God
This year, Bernabé began to attend Nicolás Christian School and continues to be an excellent student! The Christian education he receives at school is helping him to establish his personal relationship with God. Recently, Bernabé led student devotions at school. Bernabé has become part of the Christian community at Nicolás Christian School, where all the students come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds.
Transforming Bernabé’s Life Through Love & Male Role Models
The anonymous team member also provided funds for Bernabé to get dental work done to replace a missing front tooth, which has been a real self-esteem booster! Bernabé seems so much happier now. God has been transforming Bernabé’s life through love and the attention of male role models such as Ivan España, Principal Braulio, and the teachers at Nicolás Christian School, and because of the generosity of the anonymous donor to support Bernabé’s tutoring and field work.
God Worked a Miracle Changing Bernabé’s Life
God never gave up on Bernabé, and neither did Juana, the anonymous team member or NFE. God worked a miracle here that is changing Bernabé’s life and answering Juana’s years of prayer for Bernabé. Thanks be to God!