I met Dania at the Buckner Family Hope Center in Villa Hermosa, Peru, while on a shoe distribution trip with Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls® last month. She listened to Bible stories, made a craft and left with a pair of shiny pink and silver sneakers she clearly loved. Her new sneakers allow her to attend the nearby preschool, as well as protecting her tiny feet from the rough terrain of the neighborhood.
Dania lives in a house nearby with her mom, who is single. Dania has a huge personality. She loves to sing with her scratchy little voice, loves ponies and Peppa Pig and is by any account a happy kid in spite of the very stark poverty in her community. Her mom, Noemi, is clearly devoted to raising her and loving her well.
Four years before, Noemi discovered her husband was expecting a baby with another woman at the same time she was pregnant with Dania. The news sent her into a spiral of despair and depression. Many of the families in Villa Hermosa don’t have regular access to basic necessities like running water or electricity, much less additional resources like child care or counseling. How was she going to manage?
Her friends suggested she contact Buckner Family Hope Center in Villa Hermosa. She knew the Family Hope Center gave out shoes to children and hosted sewing classes for moms in the neighborhood. Maybe they could help her too, she thought. At the Family Hope Center, however, Noemi found more than just shoes and classes. She found people who were willing to walk with her, and then with her daughter, as she navigated her complicated options. She learned she had the will to raise Dania as a single mom, while drawing on the hope she found in God and her community.
Noemi and Dania’s lives could have gone down a very different path. Noemi has always loved her daughter, but she was going to need aid and resources to be a successful parent. Through the help she received through the Family Hope Center, this sweet family was able to stay together. My heart was more than full watching Dania as she tripped off to preschool in her brand new sneakers, confidently holding the hand of her mommy.
Written by Rachel Wallis, director of Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls.