Success Story – Norma from Nicaragua – A Story of Transformation
Norma’s Story Paso Real, Nicaragua – Paso Real was most certainly the village where the word “hopeless” was coined. It was also the place that gave life to Norma Hanna, but it gave that life no meaning or purpose. By overcoming enormous obstacles, Norma began an odyssey which brought her to the United States and eventually, by her own choice and decision, back to Paso Real, Nicaragua.
Norma’s father left her when she was a small child. He could not deal with the despair and hopelessness of their life in Paso Real. Her mother quickly remarried and began having more children so by the time Norma was 10, there were seven people living in a one room hut. Her step-father was mean, lazy and selfish, but her mother chose to spend her time with him and left Norma, at ten years old, to be the mother of the other children. Norma had no time to play or go to school.
Quite a few years later, Norma had the opportunity to move to the United States. After spending twenty years living and working in the United States, Norma chose to return to Paso Real to help the people of her village. Because of Norma’s determination, Paso Real is now a place with hope. Products and goods provided by Matthew 25: Ministries arrive in Paso Real and are stored in a warehouse built by Matthew 25. Children receive a hot meal at the Feeding Center constructed by Matthew 25 and attend school in a building remodeled, furnished and supplied by Matthew 25. People from nearby villages come to Paso Real to see for themselves the wonderful things happening there.
Norma has transformed the village into a vibrant, well-organized community. With Matthew 25’s help, Norma is able to offer food, clothing, educational supplies, medical supplies, personal care and cleaning necessities to Paso Real and the surrounding villages. However, in order to receive supplies, each recipient family is expected to contribute to the active betterment of the community if they are able. Dirt roads have been widened, ruts and gullies filled in; common areas have been cleaned and improved; cemeteries cared for, personal properties tended. Fields have been cleared and crops grown, irrigation systems set up, orchards planted. Chickens and pigs are being raised for market. Any family wishing to receive assistance must send their children to school. Children are encouraged to attend extra classes focusing on music and reading. Handwashing, general cleanliness and simple safety rules are being taught and encouraged.
Matthew 25: Ministries has constructed 22 sturdy one-room houses in Paso Real. Recipients of these homes were selected by Norma, based on need and willingness to participate in community development projects. Matthew 25 also built a hydro-electric plant that uses water from a nearby waterfall to generate electricity for the village. Norma also used that source of power to fill cisterns for her village and develop an irrigation system for the fields surrounding the village. During the COVID-19 crisis, with support from Matthew 25, Norma’s village is making reusable masks for local nonprofits, healthcare facilities, public service agencies and others in need.
Changes continue to take place as Norma and the villagers continue to strive for a better life. It is a community of people with self-respect who only need a helping hand, not a handout.