Hope in Nicaragua: Hugs From Little Children

Posted by on Nov 11, 2017 in Articles | 5 comments

“She extends her hand to the poor; yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. Proverbs 31:20



Garbage littered the streets.  Homes were made out of metal sheeting.  Sewage ran down the road.  Laundry was draped over wire fencing.  Home after home, street after street, the further out we drove from Managua, the more poverty we witnessed.  We were going to a primary school to serve lunch and work with the children.  “What will the school be like?” I wondered as I witnessed the gradual decline outside the window of our shuttle.


I thought I’d prepared myself for the trip.  I’d spent the weeks leading up to my trip with Convoy of Hope reading about the conditions in Nicaragua.  I’d read news articles about the many earthquakes that had crumbled the cities and villages.  I’d looked through photographs of children picking through the garbage dumps in search of plastic bottles to sell for food.  Convoy of Hope’s website has stories about the work being done to feed the hungry and help those living in poverty.  I thought I was prepared for what I’d experience during my short time there.  I was wrong.


Our shuttle pulled up to the fence surrounding the little school.  The school was housed in what looked like a row of concrete stalls.  It was painted with bright, cheerful colors.  The windows were openings in the concrete covered with bars rather than glass – nothing like the schools in our own country.


The other women on the team and I took deep breaths as we prepared to begin our day.  How would the children react to us?  None of us spoke Spanish.  We were relying on interpreters and the local team to help us communicate (They were a wonderful team to work with!).  We were strangers.  Would they be frightened by us?  I envisioned timid, reluctant children.  Again, I was wrong.


Within seconds of our stepping through the gate and into the school yard, children rushed to us, smiles on their faces.  We were embraced.  Our hands were held.  Hugs were given freely.  They didn’t want to let go.  I was shocked – and thrilled- by the welcome.  Sweet little faces looked up into mine.  What joy I felt!


The teachers led the children back into their classrooms.  They had prepared special programs for us.  One class invited us to join them as they sang and danced to “Padre Abraham (Father Abraham).”  Another class demonstrated their knowledge of healthy foods.  We helped a class of older children plant gardens on the school property.  Laughter rang out in each of the classes.



Lunchtime came.  Children with plates and cups in their hands lined up around the school, waiting their turn at the little building that was the kitchen.  There were no tables and chairs.  The kitchen was just big enough to prepare the food.  The plates were handed through a window to receive beans, pasta, and half of a tortilla.  Cups were filled with lemonade.  I’ve never seen children so excited to receive such a modest meal.  They took their plates and found places around the school yard to sit and eat their lunch.


Once finished, they rinsed their dishes in an outdoor sink and waited for us to finish our work.  As soon as we left the kitchen, we were again embraced by them.  Hugs and more hugs – little arms wrapped around my legs and waist.  Little hands slipped into mine, sweet smiles on the little faces as they looked up into mine.


Letting go of those little hands and stepping out of the school yard was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.  Fingers wrapped around the metal of the chain linked fence, sweet faces looked out at us as we made our way to the shuttle.  Smiles still graced their faces as they waved and shouted “Adios” in answer to our own waves and “good-byes.”


The school wasn’t the only place we worked with children.  We also spent time working with a group of young teen girls.  The experience was similar – smiles, laughter, hugs, hand holding.  Everywhere we went, we were greeted with love and excitement.


I was unprepared for the poverty, but I was also unprepared for the joy and acceptance we received from the people we worked with.  They are people with very little who want to share all they have, even if it’s only a smile and hug.


The trip ended too soon.  I settled into my seat on the plane and watched the terrain speed by as the plane taxied down the runway.  Each tree, hill, road, and river grew smaller and smaller as the plane lifted higher and higher into the sky.  I didn’t want to miss a thing.  Before long, we were above the clouds.  I could no longer see the beautiful land of Nicaragua.  And I wept.  I was leaving behind those precious faces, their hugs and love given so freely.  I had travelled to help others, to give a little of myself, to share the love of Christ.  I, however, had received so much more.  I left a part of myself in Nicaragua, but the love I received and the joy I witnessed was far greater than anything I had given.  I will carry the images of those sweet faces, the hugs from the children, the feeling of their hands in mine – for the rest of my life.



To learn more about Convoy of Hope and their mission to feed the world, visit: https://www.convoyofhope.org/about/



  1. Such a sweet story. It brings a tear to my eye.

  2. I love this so much!! Thank you for capturing our experience so well!

    • My pleasure. It was an experience I will never forget!

  3. Thank you, Eileen, for giving words to our experiences in Nicaragua. It was an amazing trip and reading your essay brought back many precious memories.

    • Thank you, Cheryl. It was an incredible experience.

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