Helping Across Lifespans: From Grade-school to the “Old Folks’ Home”

Lisa Fernandez recently returned from a two-week sojourn in Nicaragua, where she had the opportunity to visit several projects supported by Sharing Resources Worldwide. She writes:

Guillermo Munguía, has a limitless heart and a special sensitivity to the elderly. I once again made the eight-hour bus trip to Mulukuku, Nicaragua (the dry season is defi nitely the time for this trip!) and spent several days there catching up on Sister Sandy’s programs to improve health and education in this remote and underserved area. SRW has been supporting Sandy’s work these last two years by collecting and shipping badly needed items: school desks, school supplies, clothes, fi rst aid supplies, blankets, hospital linens, toys, shoes, office supplies, personal care items, and much more. As in previous visits, the impact of SRW’s efforts was visible everywhere I went: in the mountain schools, the newly established local library, the thatched-roof homes. The benefi ts are as tangible and concrete as a desk to sit in, a pencil to write with, a bucket to carry water from the well, a clean bandage to wrap around a machete cut, a fi ling cabinet for medical records in a local clinic, the clothes on a woman’s back. How wonderful to visit a two-room school house in the mountains of Nicaragua and see the children seated at desks that were collected and shipped from the SRW warehouse. To all who have contributed to the success of SRW’s mission in Mulukuku, I am grateful for the opportunity to see the very real difference that your efforts are making in the lives of people far away. We truly are one world, and a small one at that!

I also visited Jinotepe, Nicaragua, a community about an hour from Managua. Guillermo Munguía, a lifetime member of this community with a limitless heart and a special sensitivity to the elderly, has taken his dream of providing loving shelter for homeless elderly people and turned it into a reality. His Hogar de Ancianos (Old Folks Home) is truly something to behold.

The beds are rusted shells with foam or folded blankets on top. Thirty-four destitute elderly men and women are now living in a safe place where they are cared for with a tenderness that can make you weep. True, the conditions are very basic and the needs are great. The beds are rusted shells with foam or folded blankets on top. There are no shelves or dressers- just a cardboard box here and there to serve as a table or storage space. But the residents are clothed and fed and kept clean. They have a place to sleep, water to bathe in and three meals a day. Most importantly, they have loving, respectful, tender care. Guillermo has exhorted the town of Jinotepe to embrace the homeless elderly in the community, knocking on doors and entreating poor and wealthy alike to bring food and clothes and whatever they can to keep the Hogar going.

His passion and commitment compel a response from his neighbors and friends. He and other workers at the Hogar have a deep love and respect for these vulnerable people, and know them as individuals with rich histories. He shared some of their stories with us: The formerly rich businessman who lost his family, wealth, and reputation to alcohol and ended up destitute and alone on the streets. The dignified, college- educated man who has traveled the world and still reads and speaks English, but was found wandering the streets of Jinotepe, unkempt and homeless. The 105-year-old woman who was the first person to find refuge in the Hogar.

There are no shelves or dressers- just a cardboard box here and there to serve as a table or storage space. She was about to celebrate her birthday on the day I visited, and complained tearfully to Guillermo that her roommate had been rude to her.

Guillermo listened, stroking her arm, and assured her that he would resolve the problem. Combine such tender, loving care with the resources SRW can provide to help meet physical needs (a comfortable mattress, a blanket, an adult diaper, a commode…) and the world becomes a better place, one person at a time.

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