Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wendy Figureoa: Case Worker Extraordinaire

She stands no more than 5´1”, an unassuming woman with soft eyes. She could be any Hondureňa, but there is none better suited to serve as AFE´s new caseworker.

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She picked her way through the dirt to a house on the edge of a busy street, pieced together from garbage, vacant except for dogs milling about the yard. Yesterday one of AFE´s new students, fresh from the garbage dump, came to school but wouldn´t enter class. Sandra was too shy to tell her teacher why. She walked behind Wendy Figueroa as they went to visit her home and her mother. After the first knock on the aluminum gate it was apparent that no one was home. The only sound came from the flies landing on the laundry. But Wendy persisted. And persisted. Until a small woman with a suspicious scowl appeared in the doorway. As Wendy chatted with her, smiling gently, I saw the woman’s face change.

Although Wendy serves as AFE’s “eyes” in the communities, watching for home situations that are suspicious of child abuse, families immediately recognize her as their friend and advocate. At the same time, they know that AFE will come in strong with police and CPS if Wendy has anything suspicious to report to them.

With Wendy acting in this new position, the home life has changed for one young woman at AFE. Last fall the thirteen-year old girl confessed that her drunken father would come into her bed at night, instead of her mother’s, and she was afraid. When she voiced her fears to her mother she denied the problem. Yet, after Wendy’s home visit, the young girl’s mother and older brother have taken an active role in her protection. The young girl once again sleeps peacefully alone in her own bed.

When a tenth-grade boy sent a note to AFE saying that he was dropping out of school to work, Wendy visited his parents to remind them that education is a right owed to every child in Honduras. Jeyson is back in school today.

AFE has high hopes for what Wendy can accomplish in her new caseworker position. Thanks to Orphan Outreach who has donated the salary and helped train Wendy for her important role.

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