However, despite these improvements, the poverty mentality and dysfunction so deeply ingrained in the people persisted, and young girls of the former dump community, as well as many similarly poverty-stricken ones, remained at risk from sexual predators and criminal behavior. The Villa began reaching out to, and being contacted by, families in neighboring communities to rescue and restore other vulnerable girls from dangerous situations.
Over time, the scope of the Villa broadened, and in addition to ministering to the girls in residence, visiting Forward Edge mission teams began engaging in work projects and outreach at local public schools, sharing the Gospel, and training students on teen pregnancy prevention.
The Villa also began to train local pastors in holistic community development, conduct support groups for women, and minister to children in local neighborhoods.
Then, in the spring of 2018, things shifted once again as socio-political unrest arose that resulted in a national crisis for Nicaragua. For many months, normal operations at Villa Esperanza had to be suspended. All scheduled mission teams were cancelled; the girls were sent to their homes to be near their families; schools and businesses shut down; travel blockades were erected; mandatory curfews were implemented; and people stayed inside for safety as much as possible. Violence and fear were pervasive, but the staff at the Villa felt a burden to reach out to their neighbors to see how they could serve. With the assistance of local pastors, they helped provide and distribute food and ministered to the children in local neighborhoods with daytime activities at the Life Skills Center on campus.
Over time, the protests and violence in the country subsided and, currently, a ‘new normal’ has been established. This new normal has allowed us to resume services at Villa Esperanza. Teams are regenerating, and the staff are eager to receive them as they reach out to serve those still recovering from the crisis. As is often the case, it was during this time of crisis that a new God-given vision for the Villa was being crystallized.