In October, members of the Austin Samaritans Board visited Villa Esperanza. Villa Esperanza was established to provide a safe environment for girls whose families lived in the Managua Municipal Dump and who were at high risk of being physically and/or sexually abused. Most of the girls living at Villa Esperanza originally lived in the dump. However, when the dump was restructured, the residents of the dump were moved out. Now, some of the newer girls at Villa Esperanza come from other communities, but they all still come from situations where they were significantly at risk.
Villa Esperanza is a residential facility with four houses. In three of the houses, there are up to eight girls and a housemother. The youngest girl is 12. In the fourth house, the transition house, four of the older girls are developing their skills to live independently.
It is truly incredible to see what has been achieved. The girls in the transition house are obtaining skills and degrees that will enable them to support themselves. Perla has completed a course to become a beautician. Luisa and Katherine are attending the university. Reyna is completing a technical course in hotel management/tourism. Reyna is applying for a Walton scholarship to attend a university in the United States. The staff is encouraged that she has a good chance of obtaining the scholarship. These young ladies are all looking forward to a life that will be dramatically different from the life they would have experienced had they remained in the dump.
While all of the girls live at Villa Esperanza full time, they are not isolated from their families. They spend some of their weekends or other time with their family, and the staff at Villa Esperanza stays in contact with family members and works with the families as well as the girls. From time to time all of the families are invited to social events at Villa Esperanza.
The staff at Villa Esperanza works with the girls to address health problems, educational achievement, spiritual development, and life skills. Developing skill in English and computers is a priority. Also, there is a full-time tutor to assist them with school work. A prayer group, Bible study and devotionals are provided by Pastor Ricardo and his wife Leyda, who serve full-time at the home.
Austin Samaritans provides funds to Villa Esperanza to help defray medical costs for the girls. There are also plans to take netbooks that the girls can use as part of the April 2017 mission trip.