Villa Esperanza or “Village of Hope” where our NCU team stayed for the past week:
Villa Esperanza is not simply a beacon of light for the 29 Nicaraguan girls who reside there but it’s a place of transformation for the hearts of team members who come as well.
In 2007, Villa Esperanza opened their doors to girls living in La Chureca, one of the largest dumps in Central America. Due to the living conditions at the dump, these girls were in constant danger of being raped, kidnapped, physically harmed, or becoming ill from the toxins and debris. Money was scarce and families did what they felt was necessary for their survival; many prostituted their daughters to the truck drivers who brought garbage into the dump. AIDS was prevalent. Education was scarce, and the average lifespan for a young woman was 18-20 years.
For the past 8-9 years, Villa Esperanza (Village of Hope) has been working with local schools and communities in the area, as well as rescuing and transforming the lives of all the young women that come through their gates. Their reach is not just into the lives of the girls and their families but into the communities within Managua and surrounding cities. By hosting short term mission teams, Villa Esperanza shares the love of Christ by investing in people and communities that have very few resources. However, in a culture that focuses on relationships, the aid that teams provide is only part of the story. Yes, it’s true, painting a school and repairing desks is of incredible help to the school’s physical needs. But the true meaning of a mission trip is in the relationships that are formed. Swinging kids until your arms feel as if they’ll fall off. Soccer games on the dirt or gravel fields. Tickling kids as they slide or doing “under doggies” on the swings until you can barely bend over. The joy. The laughter. The hugs. The kids running alongside our bus and jumping into our arms as we step off. Relationships. This is what it’s all about. Yeah, we did a lot of work. Lost a lot of sweat. We have blisters. Mosquito bites cover our bodies but we are returning home with full and changed hearts. Yet what we did this week pales in comparison to what God is doing at Villa Esperanza and in the surrounding communities. We’re just blessed that He allows us to be a part of it.
As our NCU team closes out our time here in Nicaragua, one of the most amazing things that I have experienced is watching our team love on and care for the children/young women that stole my heart 5 years ago. I think that we each left a piece of ourselves in Nicaragua this week. So, this isn’t a “goodbye” but a “see you later” because we’ll be returning one day soon.
Jessica Cardwell, Women’s Soccer Coach, Eugene, OR