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80 year old scratches for sand to stay alive

May 4, 2015

A (Latin American) Mother's Day special from La Tribuna, in Honduras:

Eighty-year old Doña Maria Leandra Cruz Salgado earns a living wandering the polluted bed of the river Comayaguela, in one of the most violent neighbourhoods in Honduras. She is looking for small pocklets of sand, which she shovels into bags and sells. She has six children, and tells the reporter that she dreams that one of them will give her a "house" for mother's day, because the shack she lives in is about to collapse. The wooden walls are rotting and the corrugated zinc roof is broken. She was never able to put her children through high school, however, and the gift seems out of reach.

With her face dripping with sweat from the effort of digging, she says that there are many days when she doesn't eat at all.

"I get up and I go to bed without having eaten anything at all, because some weeks I can't even find a square meter of sand, and when I do, all they pay me is 200 lempiras (about $10.00)."

The newspaper implores anyone who can help the woman to call the number of her granddaughter, which is printed at the end of the story. You can find it here.


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For 15 years, Conrad lived in Mexico, where he worked as a freelance radio and print journalist. His work took him into a minefield, a gunfight, a dugout canoe and the homes of many fascinating, brave and generous people. He is also an avid teacher and has led classes in radio, robotics, soccer, physics and anthropology in a diversity of places, including office towers, lecture halls, fields and palm thatched huts.