“I never had a chance to rest —ever.”
That’s how 74-year-old Rosa from Mexico described her life and her constant struggle to scrape together enough money for food, medicine and a place to call home for her family.
“I made tamales, I raised chickens,” she said. “When my husband was sick, I had to raise money,” adding that she sold fruit in the streets and at the market.
Rosa’s husband passed away 24 years ago. He was an agricultural worker, and thanks to that Rosa gets a small monthly pension from the government, but it’s hardly enough to cover her needs, especially since half of it goes to pay hospital bills for one of her sons.
Two of Rosa’s six children have disabilities and live with her.
“I am both mama and papa,” Rosa said. “I attend Mass very often and pray to God for strength.”
And Rosa is strong. Though by her own account she’s had a sad life, she smiles easily and tells her story in a matter-of-fact way.
Rosa grew up in a small, rural community.
“I used to work very hard in the fields,” she said, recalling how she would shuck corn and ride on horseback to sell it in the market.
Today, Rosa’s as industrious as ever. She learned to wake up early from her dad, and she still gets up at 4 a.m.
By 6 she’s sewing. She’s a talented seamstress skilled in embroidering colorful designs on huipils, which are traditional dresses of the Yucatan region. She sells the dresses, but even with the extra income it’s barely enough to put food on the table.
Rosa’s biggest need now is nutritious food for herself and her children.
“That’s why we gain so much weight,” she said. “We don’t have a chance to buy healthier foods.”
Rosa’s on the waiting list for sponsorship through Unbound’s program in Merida. Having a sponsor would mean she could eat better and get help paying for medicines. That’s especially important since she has diabetes.
“If she’s sponsored she will be able to buy fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods,” said Christian Zaldivar, a staff member with Unbound in Merida.
Getting a sponsor would also mean Rosa would be connected to a caring network of other sponsored elders and families, said Enriqueta May, a mother of a sponsored child who serves as a volunteer for Unbound in her community. Rosa lit up when Enriqueta told her about the monthly meetings and special activities for elders.
The extra help from sponsorship might also mean Rosa’s burden would be eased enough that she’ll get a chance to rest —even if it’s just for a little while.
Editor’s note: Since this was posted, Rosa has found a sponsor. Click here to find others still waiting for a sponsor.