There are many significant moments in every life. In the life of a sponsored elderly woman named DoÒa Delia, those moments include her marriage, the births and deaths of her children, and, also of importance, the fact that as a child, her parents bought her shoes.
The following is a glimpse into the life of one member of the CFCA family here in Ocotepeque.
On Monday, Miriam (the project coordinator) invited us to visit one of the sponsored elderly who has been ill. Her name is MarÌa Delia, but she goes by DoÒa Delia. She is 74 years old and lives in a tiny (6◊6 ft) house, which consists of a dirt floor, four mud walls and a patchwork tin roof. She has no electricity, running water or latrine.
On the way to her house, Miriam tells us that DoÒa Delia has quite a personality. Sheís known for wearing pants under her dresses and her favorite hat is similar to one that a drum major might wear to lead a parade. Later, upon reviewing DoÒa Deliaís file, we also learn that she likes to wear makeup so that she looks nice for the people she meets. It is clear that she is a strong, spunky individual despite her age and the circumstances of her life.
DoÒa Delia was born†in 1934, to her parents, Francisca and Arturo. As a little girl, she helped provide for her family by making cigars and quesadillas to sell on the streets. She was never able to attend school, so she never learned to read or write. She remembers that her parents bought her a pair of shoes – a significant point of pride because, at that time, most children went barefoot. At the age of 14, DoÒa Delia married her boyfriend, Merejildo. She went on to give birth to 14 children, 8 of whom died either at birth or as babies. When she was 40, her husband died, and after a time, she began to go with Rafael Antonio. Since then, they have lived in a poor neighborhood within the city limits of Ocotepeque.
Tucked into the corner of an overgrown lot in this forgotten neighborhood sits DoÒa Deliaís house. Smoke from her small adobe oven pours out from the 6 inch gap between her walls and her roof. Upon entering her humble home, the first thing that strikes you is the heat. The second thing that strikes you is DoÒa Delia, lying upon her bed in a red sweatshirt and sweatpants, with a matching handkerchief tied around her hair. Despite the heat, she is covered in a wool blanket. Her face is soft, like worn leather, but her eyes are alert and she is quick to smile at the sight of Miriam, or la profesora, as everyone here calls her.
We introduce ourselves and shake her small hand, exchanging ìnice-to-meet-youísî and ìitís such a pleasure.î DoÒa Delia tells us that Bart reminds her of someone – but she canít quite remember his name. Miriam inquires about her health and asks if sheís been drinking her Enfamil, a fortified, powdered milk intended for newborns. At this point, her companion, Rafael Antonio, and several of her children chime in that she hasnít wanted to eat lately, despite all their best efforts to care for her. It should be noted that DoÒa Deliaís children had never visited their mother before, and had only now reappeared in the hopes of taking possession of the little house upon her death. (They have already made arrangements for her burial.) Her companion, Rafael Antonio, has never treated her very well and has essentially abandoned her in this current illness.
It is clear, however, that DoÒa Delia is not ready to die. She inquires about the Casa Hogar, a home currently under construction here at the CFCA project. The Casa Hogar will be a long-term home for neglected elderly like DoÒa Delia and also for neglected or abused children from the area. If DoÒa Delia can recuperate from her latest illness, the project will move her to the Casa Hogar and provide for all her needs there.
As we say our good-byes, DoÒa Delia thanks us for visiting and tells Miriam that she would like to see el profesor, Miriamís husband, Luis. Miriam laughs and promises to make him stop by for a visit. Bart and I give DoÒa Delia a quick hug and promise to return for a visit ourselves. She thanks us again for coming to see her, and with flashing eyes, says she canít wait to move into the Casa Hogar.