Living Life to Smile
Alejandra Madrid may be 86 years old but she has a lot of energy, and according to her friends and family she’s always on the go. Her life’s work was doing laundry, keeping a clean home and raising her children in the area around San Pedro Sula, Honduras, a place where violence and crime have long been pervasive. But to Alejandra, it is home. She has walked San Pedro Sula’s hills over and over during her lifetime, and it’s the hills she thinks contributed to problems with her knees.
Many years ago Alejandra’s husband was hit by a car and killed when getting off of a bus, so she had to raise her children alone. One of her saddest memories is her seven-year old son being unable to understand what happened to his father. It still makes her sad to think about him, and she prefers not to talk about him. Alejandra had a tough childhood too. Her mother made bread and would send her daughter away to sell it, hitting and punishing Alejandra if she returned without bread sales or money.
Despite the pain she’s gone through, Alejandra is very close to her family, including her daughter-in-law, Martha Deras, who accompanied her for a knee replacement with Operation Walk Carolinas at Hospital Leonardo Martinez. She’d had her left knee done, and Dr. Jeffrey Mokris would take care of the right.
“Alejandra is very close in her kids’ lives and our family is so important,” says Martha. “We love her and want to help her knee feel better.”
Alejandra’s 10 total children include four boys (two of whom are twins) and three girls. When it came time to deliver each of her children, there was no hospital in the area where she lived so Alejandra delivered them herself. Three of her children have passed away; one child died from a disease, another was stillborn and one of her sons was murdered. Until 2016 San Pedro Sula was known as the “Murder Capital of the World” due to its high homicide rates.
Five of Alejandra’s living children have immigrated to the United States, and she has a total of 25 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Though they’re oceans apart, Alejandra emphatically says that her entire family loves to celebrate Christmas! These days, Alejandra lives with her granddaughter, but her family who remain in Honduras come around frequently to help care for her, including her daughters-in-law who are like daughters to her.
“Family is everything to us,” says Alejandra. “Without family we really have no reason to live.”
After a successful knee arthroplasty Alejandra is able to walk normally again and says more than anything she just wants to live out her days with her family close by, in her normal routine.
“People came and helped me walk again,” she says, “At times it can be a difficult life, but kindness and being able to walk make me smile.”