Posted by: Douglas Bailey | November 6, 2010

Where Esteban lives

Esteban’s house.


We couldn’t take the van down Esteban’s driveway as it was too muddy – and this was a dry day.  So we walked the 100 meters down to the house trying to avoid mud by walking on which ever side of the driveway was driest.

Esteban’s dad then used some kind of blade to get most of the mud off my shoes. 


I took days trying to find these shoes that might suit unpaved surfaces and all I’ve found so far is that they are very slippery on tiles and they pick up so much mud that the tread on the shoes is effectively cancelled.  Maybe I just don’t know how to use them properly!  Anyway, Esteban Sr. did get most of the mud off, the rest is in the hotel lobby and my room. 

With permission to take photo’s I took a few snaps of the yard.


You may have noticed a well to the right of the rooster.  It’s one of two wells they have.  Esteban kindly showed us how to operate the other one.


I captured what I believe is a garden shed and you should also be able to see some barbed wire in this photo.  I forgot to ask what it was for.  It’s either a clothes line or to dissuade people from walking around in the dark.


We were sat down and Esteban Sr. offered us some coconut.  I’ve tried this before and it’s nice enough.  I’m told it’s really good for you. 


Let me give you an idea of challenges faced by poor families in El Salvador. Esteban’s dad is 45 and works as a street vendor.  He buys coconuts for 28c and then sells them for about 75c to $1.  I’m not sure how far (or how) he transports them except to say that he does use this chilly bin.


You noticed the chilly bin doesn’t have wheels and therefore has to be carried down the muddy path. That is, unless Esteban’s father is unable to work. He has a bad knee and can’t work some days.  No work, no pay.  But the story gets worse; the city has recently rezoned the area where he used to sell coconuts.  He was the only coconut vendor in that location but now has to compete with others and his previous clientele can’t find him.  (I suspect the rezoning laws have prevented him from putting up a sign saying, ‘We have moved.’)  Esteban Sr. sells about 20 coconuts per day.  Say 78c – 28c = 50c.  Times 20 is $10 per day.  But I’m not sure if he pays for bus transport.  As an aside, Esteban has just become big enough to have to start paying the bus fare to get to school and the project and that is 50c a day.  

But it get’s worse, Esteban’s dad got a loan from the bank and purchased a truck as a business venture.  Unfortunately the truck started costing too much to repair and can’t be used.  I don’t know the finer details of this transaction or why there is no protection for someone who buys a lemon truck.  We could speculate how this could be avoided but it doesn’t change the situation.  Esteban’s dad is in debt for $20,000 for a truck he can not use.  I’ve done the maths and worked out that if the income was $10 for 25 days a month and they whole income was put against the debt, and assuming no interest it would take him 80 months (6.6 years).  To clear his debt.  He’s worried the bank will take his house. 

Carlos gave Esteban Sr. a little assurance in that, the bank doesn’t want his house, they would have to take him to court and get someone to do up the house and find someone to sell it.  The bank just want their money back and so would probably consider a payment plan. But regardless of all of this, God considers their debt to be small.  He is a big God and He will make a way for them. 

So, let us all entrust this situation in to the hands of God.  If I could clear Esteban Sr.’s debt I’m not even sure what Compassion would advise about it.  Sometimes when we rescue people we interrupt something God is building in their life.  So we need sensitivity and wise council in all these situations. Imagine if someone had given money to the prodigal son when he ran out.

What I do know is that the best way to break the cycle of poverty is to start with the kids and train them in the way they should go.


Esteban showed me around his house.  I believe it’s entirely made of concrete.  Here is the kitchen.


And the dining room.  I use room in the loosest sense of the word since their whole house consists of one big room and three smaller rooms.


One of those smaller rooms is the bedroom of Esteban and his brothers.  


I didn’t see the other two rooms.  One will be the parents room but I’m unsure if the other one will be a bathroom when they don’t have running water.

Here is the view from Esteban’s window.


I noticed that they do have access to power as we went back out to the porch and Esteban played and sang us a song on his electric keyboard.


Then Carlos give me the translation:

God is in my heart
God is in this house
That’s why we have peace.

Even though Esteban’s father had some major concerns, I know that his son’s faith wis big enough to carry them through.  Looking back on Esteban’s smiles I can’t see him having a care in the world. 

I gave him some gifts, but I believe that boy already had everything he needed; Jesus. 


We took a family picture.


I prayed God’s blessing over the family and Esteban’s father prayed out loud at the same time. He knew full well that God was big enough to hear both of us at the same time even while we were praying in different languages!

And then we tried to catch some chicks.


I had to be handed a chick.  I told the family that we have chicks in Australia but it would take me forever to catch one.  Hey… we are still talking about the avian variety not the human variety!  Well… I suppose the same could be said of both.  


As we leave. Have another look at this.


Do you see the darkness or do you see the light?  I see hope.  Esteban doesn’t just live in a house, He lives in a home.

I believe the Esteban’s confidence is actually due to the presence of his father in his life. I can’t wait to see what God does in the lives of these people and I’m so privileged to have a small part in it.



  1. and the family is blessed to have you in their lives too — you cna’t solve their problems, however you can give a family gift once a year — our children’s families usually buy food and clothing for the children, have also bought new mattresses — things that they need and that helps out..

  2. What a great post! I enjoyed your thought-provoking insights about Esteban’s father’s debt, as well as the light/dark comment at the close of the post. Really good stuff!

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