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East Side Story: Nicaraguan orphan shares story

Posted: March 27, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 27, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Mision Mexico Program Director Moacir Zeledon points out Australia on a globe as he speaks to a Spanish language class of seventh- and eighth-grade La Mesa Junior High School students on Thursday.  Mision Mexico Program Director Moacir Zeledon points out Australia on a globe as he speaks to a Spanish language class of seventh- and eighth-grade La Mesa Junior High School students on Thursday.
Mision Mexico Program Director Moacir Zeledon points out Australia on a globe as he speaks to a Spanish language class of seventh- and eighth-grade La Mesa Junior High School students on Thursday.
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The La Mesa Junior High School classroom sat silent as Moacir Zeledon recalled a rough childhood growing up in Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the world.

At the age of 7, Zeledon’s parents divorced, leaving him to grow up in a broken home that left him and his siblings looking for money and food.

“We were struggling every day,” he told the La Mesa students, many who are English-language learners at the Canyon Country school.

With an alcoholic father out of the picture, Zeledon, his two siblings and his mother were left on their own and with little opportunities. Zeledon was able to go to school until sixth-grade and missed out on much of his childhood, he said.

“I believed I was a person destined to live this life of poverty,” he said.

Over the last two days, students in La Mesa’s Spanish language and English-language learner classes watched the documentary “Somewhere Near Tapachula.” The movie followed the lives of 50 kids and young adults, including Zeledon, who live in Mision Mexico.

As part of the study, Zeledon visited the school to share his real-life experiences and inspire the kids to persevere and overcome their own challenges.

By age 10, his mother abandoned her children to create a life in the United States in the hopes that she may one day be able to bring her family with her to America. The new found freedom left Zeledon with little hope and he turned to drugs and stealing.

Eventually, his mother came back and at 15 years old, Zeledon and his siblings travelled to Mexico.

Unable to gain access to the country, a priest referred the Zeledon family to Mision Mexico, a refuge house for orphaned and poor children. The organization is run by Pam and Alan Skuse, an Australian couple who started the organization to better the lives of others.

“They became my parents over the last eight years,” said Zeledon, now 23 years old and still involved with Mision Mexico.

While at Mision Mexico, Zeledon learned English, went back to school and attended university to earn certification in sports management. He bonded with his peers and found a passion for surfing, among other sports.

“I realized that I had potential and the ability to achieve great things,” he said. “I was able to grow and become a better person.”

As the school bell rang and students outside began to shuffle between classes, Zeledon shared his dedication and hope for the students.

“It doesn’t matter what you have been through,” he said. “As long as you make the most of your opportunities now, you can achieve great things.”

661-287-5525

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