Nellie and her seven children lived in a twelve by twelve square room. Electricity came from a single wire strung from the light pole. There was no plumbing. If these surroundings were not difficult enough to live in, things became even worse when a fire burned the structure to the ground. There was no one who could take this large family in. Children were separated and wen to live with various people all over the island. While the island is only sixty miles long, Nellie did not own a car so visits were few and far between. Her family did not all do well in this situation. It became apparent that this family needed major help.
Land was donated to Nellie. Starve Poverty built a four bedroom house. The children were so excited to have running water that they arrived at the job site after school to sit in the bathtub before it was even installed. A local Pastor provided counseling to the children and helped them settle in as a reunited family. It is always a pleasure to drop by Nellie’s for a visit. She is a meticulous housekeeper and her children are now doing well.
When we were introduced to her she would not meet your eye as she spoke. She and her toddler lived wherever they could but had no real home. About eight years ago a Starve Poverty team built a one bedroom home for her. She had a hard time believing that people would do that for her and when she was given the keys she still didn’t understand. Over the years team members visited her each time we were on the island. On one trip we must have gone to her home at least a dozen times. It wasn’t until she realized we were not going away until she opened the door that she finally let us in. You see she had been fired from a job and felt she was unworthy of us visiting. That night we were able to convince her that our love and care for her was unconditional.
She now works full-time at a local market. When we arrived at the store on our last trip to Exuma in November 2012 it was Freddie who ran to us and gave hugs all around. A house is important but unconditional love is healing to the heart and spirit. Seeing that reflected in her makes every bit of hard work worth it because we did make a difference in her life!