Daisy breaks a large cinnamon stick into shards and places a few at a time in small plastic bags. Her daughter sits close, learns the trade. Daisy is a street vendor taking care of two kids by selling spices to passersby.
She lives in a one-window concrete box the size of my garage on the outskirts of Manaugua, Nicaragua. Sweat drips from her brow as she shares her life in broad strokes.
“Thirteen live here,” Daisy says. “Eight are children.”
“Are there any men?” I ask.
She shakes her head back and forth slowly, looking at the ground for a moment before lifting her head to look me in the eye once more. “All the women…we live here together because…we have had bad experiences with men.”
I visited with the poorest of the poor in Nicaragua last week and rarely saw a man – a father, grandfather, uncle – in the home.
They left for work, for another woman, in the dead of night, to buy groceries, after one lovedrunk evening, after a year together…and never came back.
Is the U.S. much different? Not much. My father worked for the Texas parole board for a number of years. His job was to interview countless men coming up for release – to hear their story, document the details of their offense and their lives before. Not one, he once remarked, had a dependable father.
Fatherlessness is an epidemic. 24 million children in America – that’s one in three – live in a home without a dad. After so many years of this, we can now count the consequences in many of our own communities.