Zacatecoluca sounds like “sacate la peluca” (remove the wig in Spanish) to us, but for the Salvadorans it is something simpler: Zacate= grass, and tecoluca= owl. We don’t know exactly why we entered the city of Zacatecoluca, but we clearly know why we stayed. The view of its imposing Cathedral with the corresponding park across the street all perfectly laid out –the opposite to what we had observed in the tight and messy markets of other parts of El Salvador– surprised us and captured our attention. Asking around, we reached Father Francis; a great motivating engine of social activities in the city, who rapidly added us to his hyperactive agenda introducing us to the referent volunteers of the projects that he manages in this community that is so beaten up and so sensitive to poverty, civil war and the current ‘maras’ or gangs. But, he doesn’t fight alone in this city, Guadalupe, from his desk (when she is found there) is another ‘altruistic’ –as she is called– which by the way reflects exactly what the Spanish Real Academy sustains in its definition ‘Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness’. 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
In the extreme hot weather of the city ofSantiago del Estero, Argentina, we keep on being surprised by so much solidarity. This time Father Hernán introduced us to Gachy and César, a married couple who are very special teachers. They are young, 46 and 43 years old and 40 kids had already came to their house needing someone who would trust in them and give them a chance to study.
Gachy tells us, with a nice accent from Santiago del Estero, that she was a snob at 18 years of age, but when she faced such a crude reality while being a missionary she started to feel ashamed and wonder “why there is so much difference?, why we can study and they can’t?”. Since then, they continued to be missionaries in that province and every time they would get closer to that tough situation by assuming people needs as their own and trying to promote them as a dignified person. Continue reading
Sometimes, we are open to see what comes to us as a possibility, a way out or a way in, a beginning or just something that comes and goes; sometimes we can see what is immediately in front of us, and some other times, it vanishes without notice; sometimes we realize the importance of what we have lost and some other times not even that. So many possibilities come across our way, that choosing always implies loosing and winning something. So, when we look back at the road travelled, we see the crossings, the detours, the dangerous curves, the ascents, the descents and the coincidences; those encounters that seem to be fingered by Someone to indulge us with a special gift. This is how we met Daniel, a tireless warrior.
We were innocently resting at a green park facing the sea in Lima, Peru, fleeing from the big city and its millions of inhabitants, when we heard the engine of a Beetle car; we twisted immediately to ask if he knew a trustful mechanic. At the same time he was approaching us wondering if we had come to the Volkswagen gathering while looking at Gardenia, our 1985 VW van, parked behind us. First coincidence. Obviously we didn’t have any information about the event; nevertheless, we were thrilled to get to know the local fans. Before we even started talking, he had already pulled out a gift from his car for Gardenia: ‘eyelashes’ for her eyes, spoiling her a little so she could show off before her buddies. At once, I noticed that Daniel was carrying a medal of the Virgin of Guadalupe, our patron of the trip, to whom we commend everyday our work. Another coincidence. Continue reading