We arrived in Managua and left the next day in search of Jason and his mother. Her phone was stolen a month ago and although she was expecting us, she wasn’t sure when we would actually arrive. We drove to Tipitapa and despite the lack of street signs and paved roads we stumbled upon their humble dwelling. Jadira and Jason weren’t there but we were able to speak with her sister in law and get her new phone number. We then drove to Masaya to see if we could find she and Jason and as luck would have it, we found them both there, exactly where we had met one year prior. We talked for a few and made plans to come to her house early the next day so as to spend an entire day with she and Jason. She then boarded a bus with Jason in her arms, the way she does anytime she has somewhere to go, and rode back to Tipitapa.
We got there at 8 the next morning. Jadira invited us in and we met her mother, Maria Luisa, who lives in a one-room house on the same lot. Maria has severe cataracts and also diabetes which has caused her to lose one of her legs. She then took us back to the one-room house where she, Jason and his twin brother Jasir live. Jason was asleep on the bed. It was really something to get to be there with them after many months of planning and thinking about seeing them again. I looked around the room, the dirt floors, the cinder block unfinished walls that extend upward only to 4 feet with black plastic extending the rest of the way to the top, the corrugated metal roof that lets in daylight and rain in certain places and the electricity that comes in via wire spliced together every few feet and wrapped up with pieces of trash bag. These conditions aren’t too uncommon in certain parts of the world but they are still pretty hard to be okay with when there is a special needs child living in them.
Jadira shared with us more of Jason’s medical history and what future plans and options he has. He had a surgery in Oklahoma City when he was almost two. A shunt was inserted which is essentially a tube that goes from his skull down through his torso and into his abdomen, allowing the build-up of fluid in his brain to drain and pass through his digestive system. Having just turned 10, Jason is a year away from being mature enough to receive a new and larger shunt through surgery. Where the surgery will take place and how the procedure and new shunt will be afforded is yet to be seen.
After visiting for a while, getting comfortable and finding out more about their daily life were we were able to offer Jadira the donations we had collectively raised. She was really grateful and we were reminded how far a small amount over here can translate to a large amount in other places. First and foremost, they now have a small purse set up in a local bank which will be available as they need food, clothes, medicine, household supplies, etc. Due to Jason's condition which requires around the clock care, Jadira is unable to work and provide most of these things without offerings from strangers she meets in the market. She will now be able to keep Jason at home for the next little while and catch up on time with family and living improvements. They will also now be able to complete the walls on their house and do other repairs so as to keep them safe from the elements, both natural and human. She told us there was a gun battle in the streets a month or two ago and because half of their walls are only a thin plastic sheet she and her family never felt safe in the house. Also, wet season has just begun in Nicaragua and with the roof repaired she and her boys should be able to stay dry and somewhat comfortable as the rains come daily.
There have been moments since this journey began that I have questioned how big of a difference this would make- how much sense it made to throw ourselves into something that seemingly only benefited a few. We decided to do it anyway. We do hope to grow and in the future position ourselves in such a way as to be of service to larger groups of people and causes. For now, we like what we are doing for this family, the thought that it may remind others to do the same and are grateful for all we have learned about how these matters work.
Our hope is to continue to circulate this story and get in the hands of the right people, namely surgeons or other experienced helpers that can help make the surgery happen when the day comes. We welcome all input and suggestions regarding this. This is ultimately the whole idea that we are learning about and hoping that after achieving some success with, that we can pass on to others and empower and encourage them to do the same. The idea that one or two people fueled by a desire to help, the kindness of others and the powerful tool of social media, can affect change. Many of us think these matters lie best in the hands of the educated, experienced and wealthy but there are opportunities to help and serve everywhere. Literally, everywhere. We challenge you to look around and also within yourself and jump on one of them. You can’t go wrong doing right.
Dylan Hollingsworth and Aaron Page