By Mike Tenbusch | January 15, 2021
We lost one of our scholars last week. Asdrubal Barroso was only 13-years-old. He was born in Cuba but moved with his parents to Nicaragua four years ago in search of better opportunities. They settled in a small home in Villa Guadalupe, the community surrounding Managua’s garbage dump, where his father found work to provide for his family.
Selam Terefe, kneeling third from left, with some of the parents at our community center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during a service immersion trip in March 2020.
At the age of nine, Asdrubal stopped going to school and started working in the dump alongside his dad. They labored together for almost a year. But Asdrubal wanted more. One day, he saw Kevin Lopez, our team leader in Nicaragua, in the village and approached him, saying, “I heard you’re the guy who helps kids. Can you help me? I want to go to school.”
Kevin spent some time talking with Asdrubal and could see immense potential in him. He was quite curious and wanted to be a doctor one day. Soon after that conversation, Kevin enrolled Asdrubal in our Paso a Paso scholarship program so that he could begin attending school again, this time in a private, Catholic school, where he excelled for the last three years.
Asdrubal’s mom worked in a small bakery in the village, and he began working with her every day after school. Whenever he saw Kevin, he would call out to him, “Come, have some Cuban coffee with us!” And then Asdrubal’s mom would give Kevin a piece of bread while the three had coffee together, and Asdrubel would pepper Kevin with questions, trying to speak to him in English, about things he was learning in class.
The kids on the local baseball team in Villa Guadalupe always wanted Asdrubal to play on their team because he was from Cuba, and “we all think Cubans are good at baseball,” Kevin told me. While he couldn’t join the team because of his work, Asdrubal played with them often and made good friends in Nicaragua.
Last week, Asdrubal cried out to his mom because of the pain that was searing in his belly. She took him immediately to the local hospital and instinctively knew that his appendix may have burst. But he never got to see a doctor. COVID has returned to Managua with a vengeance, and the hospital’s waiting room was filled with people hoping to be seen. He died that afternoon from peritonitis in a chair in the hospital’s hallway.
Please keep Asdrubal’s parents in your prayers. He was their only child, and they are struggling horribly right now. I find comfort in knowing that Kevin is by their side, letting them know through his love that they are not alone. We will continue to do all that we can, through our prayers and through our work each day, to support Asdrubal’s parents and to give life to the talents of children like him away from the work inside the dumps.
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