In the first few days of 2007, a young woman named Joana, in her early twenties, came running out of the El Triangulo squatters settlement where she lived in San Jose, Costa Rica holding a crumpled list of school supplies in her hand. The cost of the school supplies on her list was around $200 and included everything her two sons would need to be able to enroll in school. She and her husband made less than $200 a month. They did not have the money and this meant that her sons would have to drop out of school, as Joana had been forced to do to support her parents. In desperation, Joana ran to give our Boy With a Ball team members the list hoping that, somehow, God might do a miracle.
We took the list, knowing that we had little money left from all of the other lists we had already committed to trying to fulfill. Waiting until the very day before school was to start so we could make sure we had collected all the donations we could, Jamie and Anna went shopping to finish the other lists and committed to just see what we could do to help Joana. As they shopped a miracle happened. Our little bit of money kept multiplying throughout the day.
Late in the afternoon, just hours before Joana’s kids would be forced to drop out of school, we walked up to her door and knocked on it. Just seeing us at her doorstep caused Joana’s eyes to fill with tears. She had resigned herself to her son’s fate and our presence in her home with two backpacks in our hands immediately filled her heart with hope.
After inviting us in, Joana opened up the two backpacks we brought her and saw that they were filled with everything her children would need for school the next day. We will never forget the scene as tears began streaming down her face and her knees began to buckle so that Anna had to catch hold of her. A mother’s powerful, passionate heart had nearly been broken by the desperation of not having what she needed to see her children have a chance for a future. Jesus had saved Joana’s family because He loves Joana’s family. Just a few years later, she was able to continue taking one step after another until she became one of the first families we knew to rise up out of living in the precario.