Living with Dignity and Grace
Two NPH youths, now married, explain how NPH impacted their lives.
Reported by Daniela Candelario
Communication Officer, NPH Dominican Republic
May 8, 2017
Gabriel and Sulema were both nine years old when they joined the NPH Dominican Republic family in 1994 and 1995 respectively. Gabriel received his high school diploma before leaving the home. During his time here, Gabriel was dynamic and truthful. According to Gabriel, he said what needed to be said to whoever needed to hear it. Sulema was calmer. They lived here for more than 10 years together with our other pequeños. After leaving the home, they began their relationship, and they have been together for more than three years. In the story below, Gabriel and Sulema share more about their lives.
Sulema says, “A smile can go a long way. If you smile, people feel harmonious, at ease and confide in you. Gabriel and I were two youths at NPH, but we are now residing outside the home. We are married, working and studying to improve our lives and that of our future children. We are a small family of two.
Gabriel works for a technology firm in the finance department and is attending school. “I work in a bank, I am not attending university because I am looking for a better job,” he says. “It is very hard to find a job within the DR, mainly because jobs are given to people by recommendation.” Gabriel was very fortunate in finding a job; his boss is a friend from university.
Sulema continues, “Father Wasson once said, ‘If you are humble and have an education, people will always be willing to help you. Don’t forget to smile.’ People like Gabriel’s friend from university are always willing to help, as long as you remember to thank them. With both God and a friend helping him find good employment, we were able to finance two cars: a personal car and a car used as a taxi; and more importantly, Gabriel’s education.
“NPH helped both of us prepare for the future. NPH gave us self-empowerment, set good examples, gave us an education and most importantly a good spiritual foundation. NPH is our family. We define family as a place where learning takes place, where guardians teach children about respect, responsibility, honesty and love, and set good examples. Father Wasson was the head of the NPH family for so many years, and we remember his teachings about respect, responsibility and honesty. NPH has shaped our lives for the better.
“I have fond memories of NPH. I really connected with my caregivers, who always managed to make me feel special, like one of their own children. In particular, I had a beautiful connection with Tía Milagro, she treated me like a daughter. Feeling loved and included is what NPH strives to accomplish.”
Gabriel talks about one of his first memories, which happens to be about unconditional acceptance. When he first arrived. He walked into the boys’ house and saw Ramirez, Jose, Adonis, and Luis, and noticed they were very dark skinned; it frightened him. He wanted to leave. But in the end he learned and understood that color and race do not matter, what matters is a person’s character. Gabriel learned friends are friends. In other words, we are all God’s children, we are meant to love each other and support each other in whatever way possible. “Even though we have left our NPH home, we carry with us the teachings of NPH and are better people for it,” Gabriel says. We are living our lives with dignity and grace, providing a good example to all of the youths in NPH, and we are very proud to have come from such a strong family.”
Photo above: Sulema and Gabriel are happily married and living independently. Photos below: Gabriel in 2003 when he joined the NPH family and later with some of the younger boys; Sulema in 2007 and later in the NPH school.