Open Hearts Ministries, which ran a school inside Managua’s garbage dump (La Chureca), had to move when the dump was transformed into a landfill in the spring of 2013. The ministry lost its building in the former dump, but, with the help of Austin Samaritans, a property in the new community of Villa Virgen de Guadalupe close to the reclaimed dump, was purchased. In addition to one large functional building, the sizable lot also had the beginning of a second building. It had four walls – but no roof, no floor, and no windows.
Austin Samaritans’ mission teams this year have painted the wall surrounding the site, installed ceiling fans in the larger multi-purpose building, and helped plaster the wall of the unfinished building. The smaller building, when completed will become a kitchen, dining hall, and tutoring area. Mission participants this coming October will help install a vegetable garden on the property and plant fruit trees. The garden’s produce will be used for the feeding program and to help the ministry become self-sustaining.
The ministry itself underwent a transformation, when it moved from the old dump site. Instead of a school, Open Hearts has formed Club Cristiano la Esperanza (Christian Club of Hope), a multi-faceted program to strengthen and enrich the lives of children living in poverty, many of whom lived in La Chureca, the former dump. The ministry now consists of a Christian pre-school with 98 children, a mentoring program for 200 grade-school students; a twice-a-day feeding program for these children, and more.
A scholarship program has been created, as well as a high school youth group and a La Crosse team which plays in a local league. Guitar and art classes are also offered. It is a place full of activity, learning, and joy as children are helped to succeed in school, encouraged to continue their education, and offered a variety of extracurricular activities to explore, while learning how much God loves them.