Everything is going our way. When aunt Anita and I get off the boat from San Carlos in Saballos it is only 2 pm. And the bus is waiting to take us on the next leg of our journey, a one hour journey to a hamlet, Monica, somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
When we get off the bus don Napoleon and his young son are already waiting for us with his horses to accompany us on the last part of the journey. We are on horseback, with the men walking beside the horses. They know every pothole and mud patch of the track up and down through the hills. Part of the track is fairly passable, other parts are so muddy that the horses sink into the mud up to the chest. Fortunately I took my rain gear as there is a shower every now and then. The sun is setting at 6 pm as we arrive at don Napeoleon’s home, tired but satisfied.
I made this long journey because about a year ago we met aunt Anita at our home. Anita was trying to find sheltered living for her nephew and niece who lived in the deep interior of Rio San Juan. The Ruach policy is that, space in our home permitting, we are open to any person with an intellectual disability who comes our way. We always visit a potential new resident in their home context, to get to know the family and to assess the urgency of a possible move. But this was for us the first time we had got a request from so far away. So when I met with aunt Anita a year ago she agreed to sending us a letter from a local doctor or church pastor to support her request and justify my embarking on such a long journey.
Then aunt Anita went off our radar till about two months ago when we had a sequence of phone calls, with the result that about a month ago Anita came to visit us with her brother Napoleon, the father of Helena and Manuel. They brought with them the letters of recommendation from doctor and pastor and in a meeting with the president of the Ruach Board we agreed that I would visit the family. It was going to be a three day journey: a day and a half to get there, and the remainder of the time to be there and make the return journey. Aunt Anita was going to be my travelling companion.
In this part of Nicaragua you imagine yourself to be in a different world: many hills, lots of vegetation, few signs of human habitation, but then there is the occasional hamlet. Their home was very simple, made of wood, in a beautiful setting. The views are spectacular. The home itself is not well-equipped. The living room has one couch and one table and one ceiling lamp. There is no television, only a small radio. There are two bedrooms with one bed. The kitchen is the best equipped room in the house: pans, mugs, plates, cutlery and a wood fire. That’s about it. No toilet. No bathroom. No guest room. So aunt Anita and I spent the night in the double bed vacated by don Napoleon and his current wife. One has got to be flexible on trips like this, and fortunately I have had sterner tests in the past! We were very warmly welcomed and it was a real pleasure to be their guest for a short time.
Helena and Manuel
The outcome of this visit is that we expect that next week Manuel and Helena, both in their early 30s, will become new core members of our Ruach community. It is going to be a real challenge for them and for us to get used to each other in the shortest possible time. But we are up for the challenge. I will keep you posted about Helena and Manuel in the next blog.