Sometimes, girls just want to be girls. They want to listen to music and dance. They want to giggle about boys. They want to bake cookies, make beautiful things with their hands, braid hair, and talk about what life will look like when they grow up.
Today, in a transition home tucked away on a quiet cobblestone street in Antigua, girls got to be girls.
Evita's girls, posing for special pictures on their "girls day."
Sulma, Maria Jose, Topacio, Micelda, Brenda, and Nancy each have stories to share – stories of pain, abuse, abandonment, rejection. More than one has been sexually abused by a family member, and three now have children. None of the girls is over 18 – the youngest mom is 12. Some have a hard time remembering any life outside the orphan system. And all beam when they speak of the woman who has given her life to serve them.
What a beautiful smile.
Evita is rarely seen without a smile. When the smile isn’t there, it’s because she’s hurting for one of her girls. This morning, she lost a girl at Hogar Solidario, the government orphanage she works at to make money to support the transition home she runs. “She has been very sick, and she is now in Heaven.” It is a blow to the heart of a woman who wants to see lives healed and transformed, and a difficult addition to a challenging week. “More girls keep coming to Hogar. We now have 293, and we have so few workers to help them.”
Everyone remembers the first time they meet Evita. She is a tiny woman with a huge presence. Her love for Christ compels her to serve. “Some people think I’m crazy, thinking I can make a difference in these girls’ lives, but Jesus tells me this is what I am to do. He gives me strength. He gives me wisdom. So I keep running for Him.”
At Hogar Solidario, Evita has provided stability and encouragement to the orphans. It is because of her persistence and influence our team has been able toteach job and life skills. It is because of her conviction we have been able to get to know the girls, pray with them, fall in love with the girls.
At her transition home, Evita has given wings to dreams. The girls are provided a safe home, education, counseling, and a sense of family that is so easily erased in an orphanage. It’s a rewarding but hard road for the girls – and for Evita. “Last night, I called my pastor so he could pray with me. Sometimes when you are tired, you forget who you are. You see only your failures and not what is good. I needed to remember. I think I am a light – a tiny light – in my girls’ lives. I love them all.”
Having God-crafted family walk alongside her on her journey is a gift she doesn’t take lightly. And her girls don’t forget those who return. “Every time you come, my girls grow. Seeing you walk through their door again and again gives them confidence. They see themselves as worthy.” This time, when our Orphan Outreach team walked through the door, we came with kitchen supplies, yarn and crochet needles, clothes, personal care items, medicine, and toys for the precious toddlers. And we came with new friends – friends who have now become family, who are already scheming to purchase sewing machines for the girls so they can use the skills they’ve recently learned. We’re now joining Evita in prayer for desks and computers so the girls can study at home, and for an English tutor so the girls can be even better equipped to get well-paying jobs once they finish school. And we’re praying for new “family” to join Evita’s family.
Because girls really do just want to be girls – with wings to dream.