Sujeylin never ceases to surprise me, even though lots of things that happen to her are not always directly due to her own actions. This time, things got a little dramatic, to say the least.
I left Managua three weeks ago with a very good feeling. Baby Karla was in good hands and Sujeylin seemed to finally have settled in Felix’s house under her own terms. She seemed reasonably happy with her situation. Here’s a picture of the last day as proof…
What’s more, I had been talking to her about helping her set up a small business, so she can sustain herself and become independent (right now she depends on Felix’s income). We had agreed to buy her a sewing machine, as this is something she likes doing and she had already arranged for some work doing repairs etc.
A week and a half later I get news from Managua that there has been a serious fight in the house and that she packed her bags and left. At first she returned to the group she was living with in the park, back on the streets with Karla’s bed and all, but when the police showed up she decided to rent a small room. The same she stayed in when her baby was only days old. This is not a very healthy place for anyone, and as expected, Karla got ill again quite quickly. And her mother’s plan to start a little sewing business had to temporarily be postponed.
I’ll save you the long phone calls and many emails to and from Managua, between Martha Clarissa (my producer there), Sujeylin and myself, but today the solution is around the corner.
So, today we’ve hired a driver to help her transport everything to her mother’s village in Chontales, where she will rent her own (small) place. There, we help her in buying supplies for an alternative business she believes will be more lucrative: selling shoes and sandals. This last element, significantly more expensive than the sewing machine, has been set up as a zero interest micro credit, in the hope the outstanding debt will increase her dedication to really make it work. I really really hope it works but will most definitely invest the money right back into her future if and when she returns it.
Surprisingly, she has opted to go there with Felix, which is risky but better than living in his family home in Managua. The upside is that she’s close to her own family, which is really the strongest social network she has right now (except for her street friends, but excluding them from the solution seems obvious).
I think it’s no surprise to anyone that it’s easy to become emotionally involved in the lives of your protagonists, especially when there’s a baby involved. And even more if you have been a witness to the birth of that baby, which is my case. Understandably, I was worried and lost some hours of sleep over this. What’s more, I owe a lot to Sujeylin’s generosity and dedication to the project. So I felt a strong responsibility to get her out of her risky situation and set her up in a safe environment where she can start working on her future and that of Karla.
I will be checking in with her and Martha regularly, to make sure the plan we all agreed on works.