On Monday Pastor Jerry and I met up with 8 other church leaders from Long Island and the NYC area and traveled to Villa Esperanza in Managua, Nicaragua where we met up with another 5 church leaders from around the US for a vision trip with Forward Edge International. On Tuesday we heard from Forward Edge founder Joseph Anfuso as well as the Villa founders and leadership team about their vision for holistic ministry and community transformation. We then went to the town of Villa Guadalupe where we went to the homes of two families of girls who are in Villa Esperanza’s residential program. We then had lunch with educators, medical professionals, pastors, and community leaders at the local school and heard how they are all working together to address problems and raise the standard of their community.
This town was famous for years for its dump in which people would make a living by digging through the trash to find everything from scraps of food to things they could sell to make a living. Their extreme material poverty resulted in many abuses, most notably against young girls. While many strides have been made, including shutting down the old dump, creating a recycling plant, and much more, most of the abuse continues. You will notice in the pictures below one of a few houses. These houses were built by the French and Nicaraguan governments when they created the recycling plant. Unfortunately, most of the people were not accustomed to the furnishings provided in the homes, and seeing an opportunity to make a quick buck, they sold off the furniture. You will also notice that the windows are boarded up. This was the case of the vast majority of the houses. Why? Because evil requires darkness. Much abuse happens behind the covered windows of these homes. Forward Edge and Villa Esperanza are working hard to address the systemic issues that cause these things today as well as working on initiatives that will transform the community holistically and break the cycles for future generations.
During the afternoon we heard from Dr. Ravi Jayakaran about their process for working with leaders to assess the needs of their community and address those needs in an integral way. During the evening we had dinner with the girls of the Villa. For me personally it was such a joy to be reunited with the girls I met and fell in love with this past summer.