Limitless Altruists

with Guadalupe, Lillia, Marcelino at Cosme Espesote

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

Swinging smiles

Uncle Antonio and his crew

How easy it is to ask for a coffee! In Buenos Aires we make the typical gesture of the index finger and the thumb together to the waiter, and according to how close or far away those two fingers are, the waiter would know if it is a small coffee or a large one. Here in “Smiles Coffee” –in Granada, Nicaragua– we can also ask for coffee like that, only if we wanted it with milk we would make the gesture of milking a cow, though. It would be fun to try that mimics in the coffee shop around the corner, right? In this oasis our words are not useful at all and we feel happily useless wishing a simple coffee with milk. Of course, we could simply point at the menu, but learning how to say it with signals is a whole new adventure in itself. Rodolfo, Irma and Douglas, the ones attending customers, have fun because they have already overcome the initial dread phase; now they understand us with just one look and wait patiently for us to finish clumsily the ‘Thank You’ sign that we repeat nonstop. Surely, we must look desperate not knowing how to communicate.

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Hands Wide Open

Our heroine has no costume or cape, but the one thing she cannot do is: fly. It is almost impossible to get her to pose for a picture; she is thin and small and despite her aerodynamic clothes could make her fly in a storm, she prefers to stay down here, close to the mud and those who suffer the most. Marlen may look tiny to our eyes, but she is just disguising an engine filled with a throng of power horses, courage and humbleness who dedicates every minute of her life to care for the abandoned disabled: the poorest of the poor, those who cannot even ask for help.   Continue reading

The paths of Life

seeing through their eyes…

Many times these paths are not what we have expected, believed or imagined’, like the songs goes, but these paths make us go to every kind of place, sometimes with unexpected stops, extended joys or brief sighs of emotion. We are driving towards our objective and life surprises us during our journey. Yomaira is 41 years old and is fulfilling her dream, to become a Teacher. Since she was very young she has dreamt of educating others, to keep them away from the poverty and violence in which they were immersed. With no hesitation, she set down to teach the kids who couldn’t access school, while peeling yuccas and breastfeeding her baby in her humble house located on the south of Barranquilla, Colombia, in the neighborhood ‘7 de Abril’. Nothing and no one could make her lose hope that someday, this longing which in part she was already accomplishing, could be multiplied and get bigger beyond her expectations.       Continue reading

“I thirst”

The one, MTC

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

The old lady who didn’t like seniors very much

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

The Queen Ant

with Reina in St Michael´s Chapel

In the outskirts of Chilecito, in the town-neighbourhood of San Miguel with 1,100 inhabitants, everybody knows “Reina” (Queen) because she is like a mother to the community. She knows and takes care of everyone, and like an ant’s work she gets everything she sets her mind to. Since she has memory, she has always been doing this and will keep on doing it; with over 70 years old she is like a train engine at the service of others. She knows everyone and to everyone she asks for help, thanks to that and with a lot of effort, she managed to make a reality the Dining Room, the cemetery, the Chapel of San Miguel, the Library and so many other things. Continue reading