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How a missionary's gift to a family in Mexico changed the trajectory of generations


Time now for "My Unsung Hero," our series from the team at Hidden Brain that tells the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else. Today we hear from Joy Diaz. Diaz grew up in Mexico City, and although her parents were anything but wealthy, they devoted themselves to humanitarian work. By collaborating with a network of people from around the world, they were able to support a community living in extreme poverty.

JOY DIAZ: And when I talk about extreme poverty, what I mean is these people lived inside the municipal garbage dump. And my parents had no money, but what they had was a lot of faith. And they worked tirelessly to bring teachers and doctors to work into the garbage dump and help the people who live there.

And eventually, as time went by, my parents were able to build a clinic. They built a school. They built public showers. They built a dining hall - all of that in the middle of the garbage dump. But while that was happening, we did not have a home. We were renters. And I remember one day, one of those doctor missionaries - he flew into Mexico City, hopped on a taxi, came to the house, saw my mom and just gave her this paper bag full of money, full of cash. I don't know how much money was in that bag. I am thinking about $50,000. And he said, for many years, I've been wanting to buy a house for you, so here's the money. Buy a house.

And because of his gift, we were able to move into a middle-class neighborhood. And because of his gift, you know, the money that was spent in rent was now saved, and I was able to go to college. And that changed not only the trajectory of my life, but it - I believe wholeheartedly that it changed the trajectory of generations because today, my children live in a middle-class neighborhood because I am college-educated, because I am able to have a better job than I could have had before. You know, like, it changed the trajectory of generations. I want to say his name. My unsung hero is Jack Bloxham from Richmond, Va. I am forever grateful, Jack. Thank you.

CHANG: Joy Diaz now lives in Austin, Texas. You can find more stories like this on the "My Unsung Hero" podcast.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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