Turning a Life Around

I keep feeling this urge to write. Write more, write everyday, share these stories that are happening so fast. It’s hard to find time to write. And with my perfectionist tendencies I feel the need to edit and take way too much time with it. But I just keep hearing this voice in my head compelling me towards the keyboard to just write and hit Publish without second thoughts. So I’m doing it. Please excuse the mess!

Remember this post about a family we love with two boys that desperately need to get into school? With this letter we raised $400 in less than 12 hours, it was absolutely amazing. I wish I could write right now and give a glowing report about how well the boys are doing in school. Unfortunately that is not the case. They are still not in school and I’ve gone from being “So Encouraged” as the post said, to slightly discouraged.

Here’s what happened. The mom, Isabelle, was amazing. She took the money I gave her and hid it at her neighbors house – she kept it totally separate and guarded for this purpose of getting her kids in school. That, to be honest, just blew me away. Because these are families that are struggling day to day. And money-in-hand can easily get used up for rent, food, bills, clothing, etc. But this mom is DETERMINED to get her kids in school.

She took the bus to San Jose, ran around to all kinds of government offices getting stamps on papers and what-not, only to come back and be told that no, she needs a certain paper from Nicaragua. So she contacted her sister in Nicaragua to go get the paper stamped for her. Which just never happened, so she was simply waiting, and waiting and waiting.

Finally, I enlisted my neighbor in on this. Her name is Laura, she’s a Tica and works at Iglesia Radical, our home church here in Jaco. This woman is amazing. I could never have moved this situation forward without her. As soon as I told her what was going on – that very day – she said, let’s go fix this. We picked up the mom, boys, and 16 year old sister and headed to the school. Laura marched into the director’s office and started to figure out exactly what was going on. We spent the rest of the day running around to different offices in Jaco getting the boys ready for school. At that point we thought they would be able to start that very week.

Laura took this mom with her to San Jose the next day – she was already going for a doctor’s appointment for her husband, and she went out of her way to take this mom, including her own infant and toddler and spend the entire day at doctor’s appointments and government offices. Sounds exhausting doesn’t it?

There was still one final paper, and Laura found a courier that would take the paper to Nicaragua, get it stamped and send it back in four days. The money you all raised helped with every single bit of all of this.

In the midst of all this, the good news, the AMAZING news, is we managed to get Daña, the 16 year old sister in school! She started last week!

This girl just can’t stop smiling. She is so excited to be in school, she’s so happy to have the opportunity to study.

This opportunity is completely turning her life in a different direction. I can’t express to you how much this girl is at risk. Without school she has been out on the streets late at night, looking for work, in dangerous situations.

I don’t know what’s happened to her. I don’t know exactly what kind of situations she’s been in, but in this town I can only imagine. I do know that recently she was babysitting for a friend and was spending her days getting drunk by herself, most likely feeling hopeless.

But now? Now?? Now her smile is contagious. She squeals with joy when she talks about school. She is now involved with the Puentes de Esperanza program that my neighbor Laura does, where she will learn to make jewelry in her spare time.

I get goosebumps thinking about it. Instead of on the streets, or getting drunk, she will be creating beautiful works of art and studying with tutors.

We got her at 16. 16. A pivotal age. Only two more years before “adulthood.” Just enough time to turn things around. Of course it’s never too late. Never. But how important to get her at this age, rope her in, pull her into a loving community that will support her development as a young woman.

She came over last night to get help with her English homework. Here is our newest staff member, Lisa, helping Daña with her English.

But the boys. The boys…

They were denied entrance into school. We have everything. All the papers, all the work done to get them in, and they were told that it’s too late in the year and they will not pass their exams, so they have to start next year.

That doesn’t make sense to me? So what? They spend the rest of the year on the streets?

Luckily they have been permitted to start the Puentes de Esperanza program, where they will learn woodworking skills. This is a program for children that are in school, but an exception has been made for these two. So that’s something. But it’s not enough.

Laura and I are determined to figure this out and find a way for Cristiam (14) and Yacser (13) to start their studies soon.

Thank you to those who gave – you have literally turned the life of an at-risk young girl around and hopefully two young teenage boys also.

This post is already too long and I’m just getting started writing! I’ll close for now.

Thank you for reading.

With Love,





4 Responses to Turning a Life Around

  1. Gabriela says:

    Yes, I read your post! Is great to hear about this girl, hopefully her brothers will be able to start next year and in the mean time continue with Laura’s program. God has put you there to link people together! be encourage! 🙂 Gaby W.

  2. Kiersten says:

    Wow Leslie ! What a journey. Thanks for sharing. I will continue praying and thanking God for the lives that are changing because of your family and those close to you!
    Together we can all be part of transformation and change!

  3. Lori Shaffer says:

    The same thing happend to me at night school with Elizabeth. They told me to call back next week 3 times and Then said it Was too late.sooooo frustrating. How do we keep Them motivated? Keep posting it encourages me and I am happy to know someone is telling their stories.

  4. shellslesher says:

    This is wonderful news. education is so key in alowing these children to achieve in life. I will be praying that the bays can get in school sonner by the grace of God but I am so encouraged that they will be recieving training in woodworking until then 🙂 PRAIS GOD!

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