Apolonia and her girls are some of the first people that Servants, Inc. has helped in Villa Nueva outside of New Life Children’s Home. Apolonia’s husband died a few years ago from a heart attack, leaving her to fend for her three daughters Paola, Silvia, and Ana. When we first met this family, the three girls were very malnourished and we began helping them with vitamins and nutrition baskets to help them get healthy again. Apolonia is very animated about her girls doing well in school, as she herself is illiterate. She has told us “I want my girls to have the good education that I never got so that they are not stuck in the same situation I am when they grow up.” Apolonia’s dream job was to have her own bakery. For a while, she was buying bread from a local baker and reselling it by delivering it to people’s homes. The baker caught on and stopped selling bread to her. Since then she has been making money by reselling fruits and vegetables in her naighborhood like avocados and plantains that she buys in bulk from the market. She also makes and sells wai-pei. Wai-pei is a common product in Guatemala used for cleaning, starting fires, etc. It is de-threaded clothing that is balled up and used like a rag.
The three girls are a lively bunch and while they might be shy when you first meet them, they quickly warm up and love to help with projects or just throw a ball around. This family doesn’t even have running water in their house, yet the only time you will see these girls sad is when it is time to leave from our visits with them. They love going to school and showing off their current courses of study whenever we visit. Here are some pictures from when we first met them.
Our first two short term teams helped create a better runoff system for Apolonia’s house. The first team put up some covering for their walkways and the second installed a rain collection system. Since they have no running water, Apolonia tries to collect as much water as possible during the rainy season (May-October). Also, because her land is all built up dirt, the torrential rainfall creates terrible erosion. When it gets really bad, they even have water running through their house from above since they live on a hill-side. Our July 2013 team saw this first hand after about an hour of rain suddenly Apolonia was rushing to channel the water pouring into the back of her house to go out the door. We could tell she was used to this but we were astounded.
This rain water collection system isn’t even something we can fathom needing in the United States, but it is a HUGE improvement to their quality of living. The July team witnessed Apolonia working furiously in the downpour to fill the first 55 gallon drum and then syphoning it with a rubber hose to others down below. Now when it begins to rain, she just has to plug in the tube and turn it to fill up the next barrel. When we installed it, not too long afterwards it began to rain. At that point she was almost out of water and the whole team said, “hurry, connect the pipe!”
“No,” she said, “let us pray first.” We were dumbfounded. This woman who works so hard to collect water for her family because they have no other means of getting it, decided to first give reverence and thanks to God instead. She reported later that because of this collection system, they have been able to take regular “baths”. In the dry months (October – May), she has a deal with a water truck company that comes by and fills up her barrels.
The vision for this family is to make sure the girls stay current in their schooling while we try to help Apolonia find a sustainable income source. As the girls grow they have begun to work during vacation periods from school and also help to sell things from their house. Paola is studying to be a bilingual secretary. Silvia aspires to be a psychologist and Ana wants to be a chef, like her dad was.
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