Material assets do not determine a person’s worth

September 21, 2014   /   byMaria Garcia  / Categories :  Blog

11:00 PM, the night of December 23, 1972:

In front of the Presidential Mansion, you can see the contrast from one side of the street to the other. In a small suburb of Mangua, in the capital city of Nicaragua called Cristo Rey (King Christ). Divided by a football field, on one side you see the wealthy zone surrounding the presidential house. Across the street was the poor zone, surrounded by poverty houses and apartments with weak foundations and lots of deterioration.

It was a night just like any other night, a night of celebration before Christmas for Nicaraguan People. The lower income families were anxiously awaiting for Christmas so they could wear new clothing and cook their favorite meal for the year- chicken stew or valencian rice. It is the only time of year where people stay up late because Christmas is a special day for everyone. The streets are filled with jubilation, there is music playing in every single house, people dancing inside and outside, and sharing food and drinks with each other. It is the time everyone forgets their differences and unite with each other to celebrate.

My family was ready to call it a night; we had been celebrating and having fun all day long. We had played with all the kids in the neighborhood riding rented bikes, playing jacks, and jumping rope among other activities. I remembered the house we lived in at the time we had 10 people living in. The only person out of my family that was not there was my oldest sister who had come to the United States to find a job to try to help the family.

At 11:30, everyone called it a night. All of a sudden, silence filled the streets. It was a very hot night and I remember not having a/c so it was very hot inside once we closed all the doors. I remember going to the back patio with my mom and her mentioning the sky had an unusual red color. I remember her being uneasy that night. We had a heavy wood wardrobe we used to put in front of the entrance door to protect ourselves from intruders, but because my mother was uneasy she told my brother’s not to put it in front of the door and not to sleep near it. She also told us not to put our pajamas on and asked my brother’s to gather gallons of water and put them outside by the door. My brothers questioned my mother about all of the precautions but my mother did not say much. I remember her face looked very worried. We did not fall asleep because it was just too hot and humid.

At 12:29 AM, we felt the impact. The entire house shook, lights went off and a big noise filled the air. I remember my mother holding my hand as she called every one of us to get out the house immediately and to run to the football field. She told all of us to hold hands and not let anyone go alone. We made it outside but it was pitch dark, we were basically walking blind and stumbling into debris. Somehow we made safely to the field, and the noise of people crying and calling upon their relatives is something I will never forget. It all happened so fast. I remember there was a lot of commotion and crying and sorrow. After a few minutes, the earth trembled a few more times with almost the same intensity as the first with more destruction upon the houses. Part of the ground opened.

There was one family in our neighborhood who had more money than the rest of us. Unfortunately, they were always the ones looking down on other people who did not live as well as them. They were very arrogant and I did not want to associate myself with them because they considered themselves upper class people. They had a beautiful two-story house. Their house collapsed, and all of the children were buried under neat the house. I remember the woman’s cry for help. It was horrible. She was crying for help to get her children out from the debris and no one will help her. I remember my mother told all my brothers’ to go and help her but to be very careful if another aftershock came.

All my brothers went to help, but by the time they got to all her children they were all dead. My brothers brought the children to a safer place anyways, and covered them with sheets they took from inside our house. Our house was the only house that remained standing.

A year later, we went back to visit the town and we came across that woman. For the first time, she actually spoke to my mom in a nice way. She told her she felt sorry for all the years she looked down on everyone, and how she appreciated the fact that my mother put all of my brother’s lives in danger to get her children out of the debris. She said it was something she will always remember and treasure in her heart. This poor lady became homeless, she lost all of her children in this earthquake and became very mentally disturbed. She never overcame her tragedy. I don’t know what happened to her after that.

The moral of this sad story is that we never should undermine anyone because you never know what the future holds. Sometimes people undermine others for no reason other than their economic status, looks or intellectual ability. A person’s value goes beyond these things.

[color-box]The 1972 Nicaragua earthquake occurred at 12:29 a.m. local time (06:29 UTC) on Saturday, December 23 near Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. It had a magnitude of 6.2, with the epicenter 28 kilometers northeast of the city center, and a depth of about 5 kilometers. Within an hour after the main shock, two aftershocks, one of magnitude 5.0 and the other 5.2, occurred.[2] The earthquake caused widespread casualties among Managua’s residents: 6,000 were killed, 20,000 were injured and over 250,000 were left homeless.[/color-box]



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