Introducing Widlene Earle
Widlene likes her sleep. Well, more specifically, she likes her morning sleep. She has no issue staying up all hours of the night cruising YouTube and Instagram, but mornings, in her opinion, are made for sleeping. This past year, her school schedule was 8:30am-3pm and she had no issue voicing her opinion about that 8:30 start time.
Now that summer has arrived and school is a distant memory, one might think that Widlene would be taking this opportunity to catch up on that much needed morning sleep. That, however, is very far from her summer reality.
There is a local charity here that runs a summer educational camp for underprivileged children. Many of the kids that attend the camp cannot even attend a free school during the year because their family cannot afford to purchase the uniform. When I talk about less fortunate children around here, I don’t mean that their home wifi is not as fast as the kids’ on the other side of the track, or that they are forced to wear last year’s Air Jordans. I am talking about kids who can often go days without a real meal because there is just no money. Real poverty.
The camp hours are 8am - 4:30pm and guess what, Widlene is
volunteering there as a photographer and teacher’s assistant. I need to be clear here. I have practically had to drag Widlene from her bed on the days that she really didn’t want to go to school at 8:30. For the last two weeks of working with these children, she has been up before me nearly every single day.
She leaves the house excited to go and make a difference. Yes, she comes home exhausted but filled with stories of what she experienced that day. Always stories of some child that stood out to her.
Last Thursday, Widlene accidentally left the house with 300 pesos in her pocket (about 7 bucks). I had sent her into a store the night before to grab something and I forgot to collect the change. Not a big deal as this is one of her regular scams to amass her fortune, 10 pesos at a time. During the lunch break, she realized that she wasn’t really excited about what they were serving and she had the financial capacity to run across the street for an upgrade, thanks to the change in her pocket. As she headed downstairs to look for some rice and beans, she saw a little 7 year old girl who stood out from the crowd. She stood out because she wasn’t wearing the camp tee shirt like all of the other kids. Widlene promptly asked her why she didn’t have a tee shirt and received a reply that left an impact on her. The girl sheepishly said that she didn’t have the shirt because her family didn’t have the money to buy one.
Widlene went to the office and asked how much the tees were. 100 pesos. A little over 2 dollars. Widlene, without hesitation, pulled the lunch money from her pocket and bought the girl her tee shirt.
When I picked Widlene up that afternoon, she started a conversation that concerned me at first.
“Daddy, there is something that I need to tell you,” she began. “I don’t have that money that was leftover from last night.”
She proceeded to tell me about the little girl and the tee shirt.
I can scarcely express how proud I am of Widlene. This one incident is just the tip of the iceberg with this kid. This is who she is at her core. Every day, her compassion and empathy blow my mind. I wonder if she looked at that little girl that day and saw herself a few years ago.
I may never know what goes through her head on a day to day basis, but I do know what I see. An absolutely remarkable human being who is a natural born leader. A person that any country should be proud to call a citizen.