Nicaragua and us.

A Story of Compassion

We had been married a couple of years. My father-in-law, Alfred, was an exporter to South and Central America. He was usually on the road for six to eight months a year. He spoke not only Spanish, but the Spanish of each country. There are some differences. Idioms used in one country might not be used in another country right next door.

It was the 1970’s. Nicaragua was in turmoil. Alfred had good friends there.

It was the morning that I got the call. I had married Alfred’s daughter and we owned a house in Tamarac, Florida. We had two children at that time, Sam age 12 and Beth age 9. Alfred called at nine in the morning to ask me a question. “Considering the problem in Nicaragua would we consider taking in two children to save them from harm?” I asked Alice and then called back. There was no way that we could say no. When I told Alfred that he informed me that they were already on the plane and we had an hour to get to the airport to pick them up. I guess he already figured we would say yes.

We got to the airport and picked up our visitors. Maria was eleven and Diego was eight. They spoke only a couple of words of English. We were to have their company for just a couple of weeks that summer. My wife, Alice, fortunately speaks enough Spanish to communicate with these two frightened children. My Spanish consists of maybe a hundred words. The house now had four children.

It was the summer and I was working a job as a recreation teacher at a summer camp. I asked special permission to bring to the camp not only my kids but our visitors. Since I was a good friend of the director I got it. Kids are kids. Maria and Diego quickly learned enough English to communicate. The kids at the park accepted them into their midst pretty nicely.

Two interesting points to note. I am not trying to make any inferences just noting the facts. When Maria and Diego got off the plane they had no baggage. Unfortunately this was one of the last planes to get out of the airport and it must have been rushed. We needed to buy them clothes. It was the summer and money was tight. So I took them to Walmart to get the clothes. Now it was three weeks into the summer and they needed more outfits. They had gone to camp for two weeks and had friends their ages who now influenced them. I said okay going back to Walmart. Maria was upset and I asked her what troubled her. It appears that the children at the recreation facility had conveyed that Walmart was not modern enough. She asked if we could go to The Gap instead. I explained I would get them three outfits at Walmart or two at the Gap. Both children preferred two instead of three as long as the labels read The Gap. That is how much influence and fitting in meant to Maria and Diego.

Finally after five weeks we got word from Nicaragua that we could send the children back. That was a long time ago and we no longer have contact with them. Just hope they did well. It was an interesting experience for us and our children. I figure to chalk it up to humanity and what good was done will one day come back to us triple times.

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