Return to listing
Nearly half of all children in Latin America live in poverty. Six year old Alison is one of them. Alison lives with five siblings and her mother in Managua, in a slum neighborhood made up of corrugated tin shanties without electricity or sanitation, where the cooking is done inside on wood stoves. Gangs of youth run wild through the slum and small children go begging in the streets.
Three years ago, AmeriCares worker Hector Emmanuelli met Alison on one of his regular trips to Nicaragua. Since that first visit, Hector has returned repeatedly to visit the little girl whose smile has touched his heart.
“She’s always happy, she never begs,” he says. “There’s just something about her that makes me smile. For so many people in Nicaragua, the poverty has just beaten them down, but in children like Alison, I can still see some hope.”
Hector met Alison at a small school/day care and feeding center in the slum. One out of every three children in Nicaragua suffers from chronic malnutrition and the school provides children like Alison with nutritious meals. The school’s main purpose is to keep children under age 10 off the street, and Alison spends the day there while her mother, a local street vendor, tries to earn a few córdobas (local coins) to feed her family. Hector was visiting the school at the invitation of AmeriCares Nicaraguan partner, the Order of Malta. AmeriCares has been delivering aid to the Order of Malta in this country since 1986, providing medicines, medical supplies and other humanitarian relief that are distributed to hospitals, clinics and orphanages throughout the country. Among those benefiting from these donations was Alison’s grandmother, who suffered from emphysema, exacerbated daily by the cooking smoke within the house. Through AmeriCares and the Order of Malta, Alison’s grandmother was provided with an oxygen concentrator, a device used to provide oxygen therapy to those with pulmonary difficulties.
Alison’s grandmother passed away recently, but Hector continues to visit his young friend.
“Through our work with the Order of Malta, we’re able to help many people, but the need is infinite in places like Managua,” says Hector. “I try to remember that while we can’t help everyone, all of us at AmeriCares work hard to help as many people as we can. And when I see Alison, I take courage from her smile and just keep going.”