Even though we have heard about them for some time and even were able to recognize them walking to their home because of the pictures Jon provided for us, we still hadn’t had the opportunity to meet them. We sat down in this woman’s very nice looking house in a secure neighborhood and based on what we saw, it didn’t seem from the outside how this family can be at risk of falling apart (as the SARF ministry aims to prevent). Looks can be very deceiving…
Since Jackeline started dating her now deceased husband, his parents did not like her. For 7 years of marriage, they always gave her trouble because her family is not as well-to-do as her husband’s family. September 27th, 2012 her husband decided to try to go to the U.S. to make more money for her and the two kids. October 21st, 2012 his body was found in McAllen, TX and immigration called her to send dental records to confirm it was him. It took them 3 months to send the body back for burial.
Since her husband’s death, Jackeline has been in a rough situation. Even though she found good work (which will be ending next year, at it is a temporary position at a pharmaceutical company), she has continued to live in a house owned by her in-laws. They have been constantly working against her. “Even though we never got along, I would have never imagined they would treat me like this. Maybe it is because of grief over losing their son, I don’t know, but I need to take care of my family.” She told us. Her in-laws have been fighting against her and haven’t been much help. She needs someone to watch her kids while she is at work (especially now that school is out for vacation until January). The in-laws told her they would only do it for her if she were to sign over custody of the children, “just in case something happens,” they told her. She said, however, that she knows they are just trying to kick her out of their life and steal her children. They have even resorted to telling the children they won’t have as much fun, nor as good of a life when they move in with Jackeline’s mother (in December). The in-laws have decided to sell the house she and her children are living in and supposedly someone is interested and she needs to leave on or before the 15th of December, 2013.
Jackeline’s mother has kidney disease and is receiving regular dialysis for it. Jackeline was trying hard not to ask her mother to move in so as not to bring disruptive kids into a small house with a sick mother. However, her mother insisted they move in for the time being until Jackeline can find a house. Part of her struggle with that is that she has only been able to find temporary work and until now has not had to pay rent since she was living in the house of her in-laws with her husband.
Jairo, Jackeline’s son who is only 7, has been having a lot of trouble with losing his father. He asked all the time where his father was and when he would be returning. When Jackeline told him that his father died and he wouldn’t be coming back, Jairo started acting out at school, being more aggressive with his playmates, and even started cutting and stabbing himself because he wanted to “go stay with his daddy.” As heartbreaking as this is, Jackeline said they have gotten some help from the social worker at the school they were attending and Jairo has come a long way. When Jackeline found out about her in-laws trying to convince her kids to live with them, she asked Jairo what he thought about it and he said, “In the movies and on TV, you never see kids living with their grandparents. Kids take care of and live with their parents and I’m going to take care of you mommy, now that daddy is gone.”
Since Jackeline is moving in with her mother, the kids will have to transfer to a different school. We offered to help her move and try to find a truck and some help when she is ready to go. She has already started taking some things on her own to here mother’s house. This woman is extremely strong willed and open to discuss her hardship. The children are amazingly smart and sweet. Jackeline has the desire to do what it takes to provide for and protect her kids.
It occurred to me as we left their house and neighborhood that this family is quickly deteriorating because of a tragic event in their lives. The other families that we serve have been living in a state of poverty and brokenness for years; Jackeline and her kids are just entering that stage of their lives. As our friends put it the other night during a skype meeting, “we have the opportunity to prevent this family from falling into poverty before it actually happens.” With the limited housing, unstable job, coupled with the emotional and spiritual pain they are experiencing, we can see that in the not-to-distant future this family could very well end up in the same cycle of physical and spiritual poverty as many other Guatemalans we have come in contact with. In the next month we plan on helping them move into Jackeline’s mother’s house and getting them settled in. The kids already know which school they will be going to and while they cannot afford to go to the school they used to, at least they will be able to attend a school that provides them with the education they need.
If you would like to be a part of helping this family, contact Servants or click here to download and submit a sponsorship form. The vision for this family is to make sure the kids continue to go to school and help them get back on their feet with a livable house and reliable long-term employment for Jackeline. The last thing we would want is for these children to drop out of school to support the family as is the case in many Guatemalan families.