The True Value of Happiness

2 November, 2017

The water leaked through the holes in the ceiling and passed only inches away from the exposed electrical cords of the house. It was with not a doubt, a death trap for two elderly adults who face mobility issues. However, this didn´t seem to bother them when they receive visitors in their house made of wood and zinc. Their warm words and spontaneous smiles concealed their problems at a second stage.

IOM visited Don Manuel and Doña Victoria, a Salvadorian couple that together sum up to almost 200 years, to provide them with clothing and food, and to see if Don Manuel had adapted to his new wheel chair, which formed part of a direct assistance process jointly carried by IOM and the Social Pastoral Caritas Costa Rica (who notified IOM of this case of extreme vulnerability).

Maria del Carmen, their only daughter and her husband, brought Manual and Victoria 17 years ago to Costa Rica through regular means, in order to care for and accompany them at all times, as they do every day since. During the times of the Civil War in El Salvador, Maria’s parents recommended her to leave the country, and years later she made sure to meet with them again, this time forever.

As their trust grew, the couple, who´s white hair and wrinkles evidenced all the years of work that had passed, took center stage.

Despite her 97 rides around the sun, Victoria speaks clearly and eloquently. She remembers every detail; from each one of her birthdays, to her parents, and even some humorous stories of ex-couples when she was young. Sadly, this vitality and spirit are shadowed by her joints and digestive problems. Otherwise, this´´ granny of steel´´, of warm hugs and always eager to dance, would live the life of a common 20 year old.

When you speak to Don Manuel, it seems as you are talking in musical notes, due to his extensive knowledge of classical music. Since he was small, music was his passion, but due to his harsh economic situation, he had to work. He never formally studied music, yet through self-learning, he was able to play violin and double bass in an orchestra.

His musician hands of long fingers and harmonious movements are also rough and strong as a result of the hard work of being a day laborer. Diabetic, but fearless towards any type of work, he suffered

and accident in his own home that caused the amputation of his right leg. But not even that was enough to lower Don Manuel’s glow, the one with which he dazzled people on the stage.

Between laughs and tears, the conversation evidenced that despite all of their issues, the value oftrue happiness can be found in family union.

In 2017, IOM was able to assist 129 migrants along the Mesoamerican Region, as part of its Direct Assistance and Voluntary Return Program.