International Ministries

Our Voices Through The Silence

September 5, 2010 Journal
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 Our Voices Through the Silence


Psalm 19

3-4 Their words aren't heard,

      their voices aren't recorded,

   But their silence fills the earth:

      unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.    --- The Message


            In the poorest communities in rural Nicaragua, a photo is a treasured possession. They are found carefully framed, or safely stored in an envelope to be shared with visitors or relatives. 


            But photos can also become a voice for people whose words usually aren’t heard or recorded. Through a participatory methodology for learning called "Photovoice", we recently had the privilege of training rural health committee members in how to implement it in their communities.  At the heart of the methodology is teaching rural community members to use a camera to take their own pictures, which they analyze to tell a brief story about their life or community. Says Antonio, a farmer and leader in the rural community of El Roblar, “I never imagined I would ever touch a camera in my life – but now I have taken pictures that can speak the truth about our community, and help motivate us to think more clearly about what we can do for healthier community.”


            The photos and stories serve as catalysts to help improve the health of their communities. For example, Elia Eloisa, one of the AMOS health promoters who runs a small clinic and organizes public health activities in her community, received training from our team at AMOS on photovoice.  She took a picture of a 7 year old child, Karina, writing her name for her mother to see, while her little 3 year old sister, Bianca, sat in her mothers lap. The picture is poignant because last year, Bianca spent most of her time in a hammock and had not yet learned to walk because 6 year old Karina was in charge of caring for her while her mother was working in the fields.  Karina was not in school because of her responsibility to care for Bianca.


            Says Elia, “I took a picture of Bianca in a hammock and wrote Children Caring for Children as the title. It’s a picture of one child, but the problem of children caring for children is common in our communities.  The picture inspires me to keep on visiting other moms, and help them figure out how to do something different so that their children can be healthier and go to school, and the smaller brothers or sisters can be cared for by an adult and not a child.”


            Elia encourages and listens to the mom during her home visits. She talks to the children, and laughs with them. And from Elia, we learned the silent truth of the miracle of presence – and how each and every one of us can make a difference one person at a time by reaching out to someone in need and by being there for them. Through her home visits, Elia convinced the family to arrange for adult care so that Karina can now go to school and can proudly write her name on a piece of paper to show her mom.  Elia gave the mother advice on how to prepare nutritious foods for her children so that they are no longer malnourished.


            Through her picture and the story, Elia allows us to hear a glimpse of the voices and truths that are not recorded nor heard -- of children deprived of their right to an education and having to work, and of the hope of what ordinary people can do to take simple actions to make the difference in the life of a child.


            We thank you for your encouragement, your prayers, your support and your love - and the opportunity to learn from all of you, as well as the people we serve – so that together we can work to make voices heard from far away places like Nicaragua, and be grateful witnesses of God’s abundant love in the 27 rural communities we currently serve who are touched each day by health promoters just like Elia.


            If you do not already help with our missionary support (David and Laura) on a regular basis but would like to help us stay on the field, please pledge toward our missionary support before September 27th!  We need 100% of our support goal in monthly or annual pledges by then, and are presently at 68% of our goal. There is a matching fund opportunity for new pledges called "Give a missionary an extra lift" in which all new commitments to regular missionary support will be matched 100% by International Ministries, until the 27th.




Drs. Laura and David Parajón