In the least expected spot of the Colombian Andes, a touristic place for its colonial architecture and picturesque like no other, we didn’t expect to be surprised like we eventually were. In general, the places that attract so many visitors usually show a ‘happy community’ image, without any needs, probably hiding the least attractive side to the foreigner. For what I understand, there is always a “parallel world” that lives by different timetables and paths; it requires a change in habits to be able to casually come across it, if we are open enough to face it. Continue reading
I thought I understood what it meant to live a life of service to others, but every new day shows me the opposite. I believe that each profession has its own value, and one can help the others from where one is, but there is no doubt that some jobs are almost exclusively meant to be of service to others, for Love, those that no salary can afford. I knew just a few people close to me like my soul friend Carola, a kindergarten teacher who is for me an example of real vocation: she never gets tired of changing diapers of kids who are not hers nor her nephews, with a smile every time, trying to get the best out of these little earthquakes, forgetting completely about herself and helping them to develop happy and unique. She leaves behind her worries, tiredness or impatience to be their guiding light. ‘Fortunately’ the path of my life kept me away of the world of nursing, with just a few own experiences, until my cousin Agustina became a nurse; slowly I was being convinced that her service y and concern for the person next to her had long ago overpassed the limit of the family; she wanted to help everyone, especially the weakest. Continue reading
This time it was Gardenia who complained, and making a weird noise combined with a smell of a burning wire, forced us to stop in “that” exact place, on Holy Wednesday. It was in front of a charming inn at Mindo, Ecuador; an oasis of the subtropical forest in the middle of hills and clouds. At the door we mt and talked to the owners: Luis, Ecuadorian, married to Susan, from the United States, who were intrigued by our trip. The following morning we were invited to the best coffee we had had in the last 6 months, and then we “self-invited” to see their organic coffee plantation, confirming our first impression: we were facing a very special couple. Susan told us about many supportive projects at Mindo, we shared our joy and liking for the choice of an Argentinean Pope and also disciple of Saint Francis of Assisi, their favorite saint (and also ours!). They suggested that we talked to Father Ubaldo, who could guide us in our search: Someone who is changing the world through the service to others. Continue reading
Lupita never imagined 17 years ago, that her candid offer to help giving art classes at the Parish Our Lady of the Clouds would be so successful. When she heard the request for help from the parish priest who didn’t know how to entertain the kids during the afternoons of vacation time, it occurred to this art teacher newly arrived to Ballenita to present herself at the parish and dedicate some afternoons to this new activity. The surprise came when 200 students signed up for the workshops. They had to create different classes, with only a big room, plastic benches and paint received through donations to finally let imagination fly in their drawings. Continue reading
It is not easy to find the time and place to sit down and do the homework, even if we have the most comfortable desk in the world. For those who don’t own one it is even more difficult. For Cristina or Brian it was the same to lay their workbook on the dirty floor or on top of a mountain of potatoes or yucca; as it was hard for Karla to focus while there were always beans to peel or grains to remove from the corn. Karen just wanted to run and play leaving her backpack way under the table loaded with vegetables. Among the hustle of the local market of Cuenca, Ecuador, in between stands of vegetables, fruits, rice, juices and witch doctors, many kids tried to find the time and place to do their homework. Continue reading
A great Teacher said: “You will know him by his fruits”. It is assumed that whoever helps out doesn’t expect results, but while we were searching for our anonymous heroes, we stumbled upon the “fruit” of the service of our protagonist who was at Lima running some errands. We thought that we were missing a great story, but what we thought was a big obstacle was exactly this Big Fruit. So big it was that we had to be blind to take so long to see it. Surprised by our unexpected visit, Soledad welcomed us and started to tell us about the history of the “Children of the Andes” Association. Slowly, with each word and experience, we began to be amazed at our own incredulity, while realizing that we were facing the actual result of our heroine. Continue reading
Perú was dodging us, making it very difficult to find what we were looking for. It is said that after an arduous search a big reward is achieved, this is what we were aiming at. Slowly, after many coincidences, we reached Father David, a “good” crazy guy, who is also a priest, 51 years old with over 15 living in Perú. It’s been almost a year that he has been visiting the countryside and the small settlements surrounding the Titicaca Lake, close to a little town named Chucuito, located 3,800 meters up high in the mountains. But this is only his headquarters, given the fact that he crosses the countryside many kilometres every day, whether it is cold, hot, blowing strong winds, raining or even snowing. Useless are the suggestions from local people who wouldn’t leave without their hat or coat; he only has one objective in his head and it is to reach the sick people to assist them during their last days. Continue reading
After some failed meetings in Iquique, we believed that Chile was letting us go without introducing us to another life story to tell, but Arica, the northern door to Peru, surprised us with a little corner full of generosity and immensurable faith. Again the coincidences in life guided us by the hand. Everything started when a couple of anthropologists from Iquique came happily to talk to us because they had a van similar to our Gardenia. They gave us a tip on a good mechanic in the next city, Arica. We took note without believing we were going to need it. We didn’t know that some adjustments that we had made with an Argentinean friend had left Gardenia out of base, making it crystal clear in the middle of the dessert with an insatiable thirst for gasoline. We wanted to reach Arica to meet the specialist, Eduardo, who after listening to our project, smiled and immediately suggested the Dining San Alberto Hurtado, or better known in the neighborhood as “Aunt Petita”.
We found the first heir and loyal follower of the steps of Petita, Verónica, one of her daughters, who gladly told us the story about her mother and the Dining Room. A story of unlimited generosity, a Lady with Capital Letters, simple and humble, who having 6 kids and raising the seventh one was a nonstop working machine at the service of others. Her great faith moved mountains, more than once, the cooks worried with the lack of food, Petita would say: `Turn on the stoves, something will come along` and this is how it happened, the donations would arrive just in time to the boiling water that was waiting for some rice, pasta or beans. Continue reading
Salta, Argentina overwhelms with its extended areas, we traveled kilometers and kilometers without leaving the capital city, and the coincidences of life made us camp right next to one of our silent heroes. In spite of the signals received we were asleep or distracted. We were waked up by the music of the guitars and the voices singing “…take me to where the people need your Word…”, but we didn’t take the hint. Talking to the owner of the camping site and telling her what we were doing, without hesitation she introduced us to Alba, a biology professor who was with the kids who were singing earlier that day.
On the other hand, we were invited to meet Father Alessandro, a charming Italian from Rome who invited us to stay the night over the phone. The more we were getting closer to his parish and away from the colonial Salta with the park ‘9 of July’ and impressive houses, the more we were being immersed in a harsh reality with the most humble settlements of the city. Continue reading
We had just arrived, when we went to the Cafayate Cathedral to ask about an anonymous hero, someone who helps his/her community always at the service of others asking nothing in return. They suggested we visit Lila Domingo, just across the park, and we knocked at her door of her ancient house without knowing who we were going to meet. A lady with white hair, wearing glasses and a wide smile opened the door, looking just like any grandmother. Without hesitation, she invited us inside her house, an oasis with a colonial patio full of colorful flowers, legendary hydrangeas and two rocking chairs. We explained to her the reason for our visit and while she starts telling us her story, all doubts are dissipated; we realized again that there is Someone showing us the path and taking us directly to people who dedicate their lives to others. Continue reading