A Day in the Life...

The human rights community has focused very narrowly on political and civil rights for many decades, and with reason, but now we have to ask how can we broaden the view." - Paul Farmer

Many of the people that I met shared stories with me; these stories often had overarching themes that were present in many of the families with whom Familias de Esperanza worked. The following are just a few of these stories:

Juana's Story

On a particular social work visit, we spoke with a mother who was incredibly frustrated with her son’s 5th grade teacher. She detailed how he had problems with alcoholism and would often arrive to class in a condition unfit for teaching or not show up at all. When he did come, rather than teaching them, he let the students run around and play all day. She worried that when her son moved on to the 6th grade (which she had no doubts about because the teacher was going to pass everybody due to his apathy), he would not be adequately prepared and would consequently have to spend an extra year in 6th grade. She and a group of mothers who also had children in the class tried to speak with the principal about the issue, hoping that she would be able to do something to change his behavior or find another teacher. Instead, the principal told them that there was nothing that she could do and that the women should not worry about the teacher. She said that the teacher had connections on higher levels of the school system so there was no way that anything would happen to him.

Maria's Story

Maria came to the Community Health Director (Silvia) one day quite distressed. She said she had felt sad for a while, not caring about much. She was constantly worried about her five children and how she was going to feed all of them. When Silvia asked her if she was doing any sort of family planning, the woman told her that she was not. Her husband, who was also an alcoholic, would not permit it. Natural planning methods did not work because she was required to sleep with him whenever he wanted. Condoms were also not an option, as he told her that only unfaithful women used condoms and that he would refuse to do so. She was hesitant about birth control pills or shots because she had heard false rumors about their effects. After Silvia explained to her how they worked and dispelled the rumors, Maria decided to go on birth control, but had to keep it from her husband so that he would not get angry with her for her disobedience. 

Hector's Story

Hector, a 12 year old boy, was hospitalized for over a week as a result of neurological problems, of which the cause was unknown. His father passed away 6 months prior to his hospitalization from kidney failure, a death that could have been prevented if it was properly treated. His mother was having a very hard time feeding the rest of the family because her time was divided between being at the hospital with Hector and working in a very low-wage job as an "ama de la casa" helping in the home of a family. The nurses treated Hector poorly and he developed bed sores from not being properly changed and clothed after a bath. Hector wanted to be in school, but his illness had already caused him to miss too many days, so he was going to have to repeat the year.

Back to top