(excerpt from Gail’s journal)

There is thisgreat descriptive word in Spanish. Aplastado.  Basically it means “crushed”.  It is the only word I can think of to describe what is going on in the shantytowns of  La California behind the airport this week, oddly enough just a few days before the  new president is inaugurated.   Who lives in these neighborhoods?  Women who walked with their children for days over the mountains in desperation to get education, health care, a better future for their kids.  Men who tried everything to get work in Nicaragua and who didn’t want to resort to stealing or other illegal activities to maintain their families. Children who loved their parents so much that they trusted them to come to a place where there would be more hope.  People who love life and long for a better future that they were willing to risk everything. And when they get here, they make houses out of what they can find.  And they continually improve their houses and work to eak out a decent place to be. They register their kids for school. And they believe in themselves, the government, the authorities to respect their wishes and to let them try to get up in the world. And what about the school?  In La California, the Japanese embassy,  Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, McMath school from Canada, the British School of Costa Rica  and the Do the Right Thing Foundation believed enough in these kids, in the system to invest time, energy, money, materials and most of all lots of love, to make sure these kids had a decent place to study. It is more than decent, it is beautiful, a real model school with classrooms, playgrounds, a library, materials, decent furniture…

Imagine, when I was at the school one month ago, two women walked in. They had just arrived from Nicaragua the night before. They had only the clothes on their backs and between them they had eight children from infants to 13 years old. Not one of these women or their children had ever set foot inside a school in their lives.  They were so nervous and happy and excited that finally, finally, they were going to get a chance at an education….

This is the legacy that we  left in Nicaragua. After spending millions of dollars per day defending the country from communism in the years of Reagan’s presidency, twenty years later, we spend not a penny to help the infrastructure of the country.  Not a penny to assure that the children have the basic right to an education.

What would any of us do in the circumstances that these people live in?  What parent would not do anything to make sure their kids had a better future.

And what is happening now.  Yesterday, spite of being told that they would be able to stay until the school year is over, the people were told they had to leave.  They got their belongings, they walked out of their houses and immediately the bulldozers came in and literally crushed their homes.

Aplastados.  Their homes. Their belongings.  Their spirits.  Their faith. Their hopes. Their dreams. Their trust.  Crushed.

Gail Nystrom     May 2006

© Gail Nystrom 2007. All rights reserved.