Finding the Treasure

On good days salvaging in the dump earned Sara's family $1, enough to buy a bit of beans and rice. On bad days the family went hungry. Read how Compassion helped change that.

Finding the Treasure

By: Brandy Campbell, with Virna Segovia in Nicaragua   |   Posted: February 29, 2008

A Nicaraguan girl is rescued from a future of child labor
Garbage dumps surround the town of Felix, and thousands of people comb these each day for food and items to sell. But Sara was rescued from the dumps through her Compassion sponsor and the help of the Hands of Compassion Student Center.

Sara grew up in a garbage dump. As an infant she rode in a sling on her mother Virginia's back, her head dipping toward the ground as Virginia knelt to pick up glass bottles and tin.

Sara took her first steps at the dump, her bare feet sinking into rotten food. Her older sisters looked out for young Sara but even as they pulled her away from broken glass and needles, they couldn't shield her from the hunger and disease that plagued their family. On good days salvaging in the dump they earned U.S.$1, enough to buy a bit of beans and rice. On bad days they all went home hungry.


The plight of Sara's family mirrors that of thousands of others in Nicaragua. Four out of 10 children in Sara's hometown of Felix never attend school. And there are no high schools there. There's no need for them.

Most children drop out of school and work in the garbage dumps to earn money to help support their families. Families struggling to survive on little more than $1 a day can hardly afford to send their children away to school. Those who don't work the garbage dumps find their way to dangerous factories. Many even turn to crime, stealing food and money.

Sara's sisters had already dropped out of school and were spending their days helping their mother sort through heaps of garbage. When she was 3, Sara was old enough to collect on her own.


But Sara's future changed when workers from the Hands of Compassion Student Center (NI-155) learned about her family's desperate situation. "When we saw how Sara and her family were living, we knew we could help them," says Denis Sanchez, pastor of Ill Iglesia del Nazareno, a Compassion partner church that runs the center Sara attends.

When Sara's mother learned of the benefits Sara would receive from the program food, medical care and an education she grew interested. When Sara was 5, she was registered, enrolled in school and no longer working in the dumps of Felix.


Sara is in first grade now. She loves going to the child development center after school, where she draws pictures to send to her sponsor. Although Sara is too young to understand what a blessing her sponsor's support means, the adults in her life will never forget.

"When she was in the garbage dump, she only had a dark horizon without opportunities ahead," says Pastor Sanchez. "Now, Sara is in a classroom, taking classes. She has a different future."

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