Imagine a child, seven years old, living in a garbage dump and watching both her mother and father die slowly of AIDS-related illnesses.

Left, Erminia when she lived in the dump. Right, Erminia years later at the Villa.

This was reality for Erminia before she joined Forward Edge’s program for at-risk girls in Nicaragua called Villa Esperanza (Hope Village).

If Erminia had continued to grow up living in the dump, she likely would have had a teenage pregnancy (one in four girls do in Nicaragua). That could have happened through rape, a drug-induced mistake, or even forced prostitution—all things not uncommon among girls living in the dump.

One thing is almost certain: if Erminia had stayed in the dump, she would have dropped out of school, married a much older man to relieve the economic burden for her parents, and borne her first child before the age of 15. Depressed, uneducated, and undervalued, she would have been another link in the endless chain of heartbreaking poverty.

But praise God, Erminia did not stay in the dump!

She came to live under the care of our Nicaragua Directors at the Villa, Wilbert Alvarado and Gloria Sequeira. One of the first things Wilbert and Gloria did was tend to Erminia’s medical needs and test her blood to see if she had contracted HIV from either of her parents; thank God she hadn’t.

Erminia studying in school. She dreams of being a doctor some day so she can in her words “help others with more problems than mine.”

Erminia’s new life at the Villa came with regular nutritious meals, safe drinking water, clean clothes, a comfy bed, professional counseling, and the chance to go to a first-rate Christian school.

Today, nine years later, Erminia’s life is completely transformed. She is physically and emotionally healthy; flourishing in her school work; and growing in her relationship with Christ. She now dreams of being a doctor someday so she can, in her words, “help others with more problems than mine.”

There is a specific moment in Erminia’s story that profoundly illustrates why we do what we do together through Forward Edge. It was when Erminia went to the hospital to visit her mother for the last time.

As Erminia held her mother’s hand and said goodbye, her mother told her in a weak, defeated voice, “You’re going to be an orphan now.”

“No I’m not,” Erminia replied. “I have Papa Wilbert and Mama Gloria.”

The amount of suffering among children in this world is great—sometimes overwhelming to think about—but as Mother Teresa once said, “If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one.” For that one, our help means the world.

Even if we could only help one Erminia at a time, it would still be worth it. But because of partners like you, Forward Edge is able to impact thousands of children every year.

Watch Erminia’s story

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