Thursday, July 3, 2014

La Lucha!

2 de Julio 2014. And the lucha has begun! This morning I arose at 7am after working until 1:30am last night. It was the day to start raising money for our project. Last night we had a meeting, just the committee and I, to discuss the chisme spreading about the group and to clear the air. It went really well. And after the day I had yesterday, I may or may not have shed some tears sharing a bit of my story.
People have been talking. Because the entire committee is made up of community members from el Cruce, those from here adentro de Mariano believe that they are fighting to put the center out there, and not in the more central location here. And they know people have been approaching me about this. So they cleared the air. For about an hour before they allowed me to talk. It was a bit overwhelming. But I've seen their passion and continue to witness it. I told them that for almost 8 months in KM59 I was searching, praying, and searching some more to find people like them. And after 8 months of no such luck, my boss made the decision to pull me out. But she made the right decision. As hard as it was, there was no one like these four here in my new home. No one. This was the moment when the tears fell. They told me they loved me and if my boss ever tried to pull me out of Mariano, they would hold a strike so big, my boss wouldn't be able to enter the community. It's funny.  KM59 said the same thing. I wanted to believe them. But then they remained in their homes doing laundry or cleaning the day that Ann came to take me away. But this time? I can honestly tell you that I believe them. And it feels incredible.
Anyways, afterwards we planned for today. So I went home and made two cartulinas:

Our group name, "Collection of Funds" and what it was for; our Biblioteca Tecnológica. So at 8am, I arrived in the Cruce and with a rope and red shirt tied to it, we made a Parada. The rope was crossed over the main road and anytime a moto or car or truck approached, we raised the rope to signal them to stop. We showed the posters, explained our cause, and asked for their support; anything they could give, even if it was a single peso. And for 5 hours in the blazing sun we worked. And in the end? Raised $2,405RD. Pretty damn awesome if you ask me. It's not much but it's a start. And yet again, this was not my idea and I didn't do much to run it. Even more beautiful asi.
And just para que sepan, this is the main location we're looking into doing it: 

It's got two main, bigger rooms:

 a bathroom:

Two smaller side rooms (I'm thinking an office and then tearing down the one wall of the other to make the library half a little bigger):

A kitchen area, water storage hole, and two entrances. It needs work as I'm sure you can tell. And while we would have to have two people managing it at all times since it's separated, I LOVE the idea of having a separate library space and internet center space. I'm absolutely serious when I say I don't see what these pictures portray when I visit there. I already see the walls painted (lots of different drawings included-maybe a map of the DR, flag, a tree made out of handprints of my munchkins, etc), the bathroom beautifully made up, the shelves filled with books (we've already started that movement from all the help from YOU back home!), the chairs and couches (I know, dreaming big) to comfortably sit and read, the computers buzzing with power, and the outside made up with the name and other drawings to make it look appealing. Maria (our doctor) went to the capital this week and brought our letter to solicite the location. Here's to winning them over and hoping that by showing the owners the pictures and it's horrible condition, they'll gladly give it up for a better cause.
And now? With one burnt shoulder and un sueño fuerte, I'm resting. The damn sun in this country really is brutal sometimes ;) 
Abrazos y besos! 


1 de Julio 2014. Today was difficult. I fought myself all morning on whether or not to go fetch water from the river. I had slept in, simply not wanting to get up for whatever reason. I did some work and finally convinced myself to go. One boy, who has been the hardest to win over, but whom I love dearly, came with me. The other morning he woke up, drank water, and five minutes later, threw up. But threw up nothing because the previous day, he hadn't eaten anything.
He is 14 and lives with his grandmother. His father is here in Mariano with two younger kiddos. He was born of a different mother who lives in a community nearby but she has her own family. The way his father cares for, treats, and loves his youngest two is not how he treats this one. He cooks here and feeds the little ones but gives nothing to him. I've watched him get beat, criticized, and put down for many reasons. Whenever his father comes around now, he disappears, which causes more problems. He barely let's me put a gentle hand on his leg let alone hug him. But I tell him I love him anyways. And when I ask, he tells me he believes me. I hope he truly does. And I now bring half of my lunch and dinner back with me to give to him. 
Things have gotten better between him and I. He loves coming to the river with me, he offers to go buy my Botellon de agua and carry it to my house, and sometimes we play games on my tablet. The other night he cut up three pineapples and we made juice together in my blender, enjoying it cold the next day. I found out he loves picante just as much as I do. Last night was a cold night so I made hot chocolate and him, TiTin, Yoelbi, and I drank it, dunking the bread that I bought in it. 
Today we lugged water up the hill and to my house and his father was waiting, angry. Of course, venting to me in front of him, telling me how horrible his son is. How he goes to other houses and does chores but runs and hides when he knows he has chores here to do. How he wants to know how much the other families pay him to do their work and that it's abuse. I wanted to explode. Tell him that his neglect for his own son is more abuse than that will ever be. That while yes, he should do chores here seeing that it's where he lives, I understand why he doesn't. That he shouldn't ever consider himself a son of God allowing his oldest to starve while he feeds his younger two in front of him. How I want to take the whip from his hands and make him feel what he makes his son feel every time he lowers it onto his bare back. God forgive me for admitting to that.
Instead, I remained silent. And when there was a break in his rant, I walked to Dominga's house to hug little Naomi in the hopes that the tears threatening to fall would somehow soak their way back into my dehydrated body. A man from Vision Mundial came and had him write a letter to the man that sponsors him from the States; a beautiful program but one that holds many flaws (that's a whole other topic). I waited patiently and when he left, gave my little man the half of my food I had saved for him; but hidden in my house as to not let his father find out. It was 1:30am and this was the first time he had eaten all day.
My heart breaks for him. And I fear but also ache for the day when I finally work up the courage to unload on his father. It won't change a thing but I can't hold it in forever. Even his own mother hates the way he treats him but whenever she tries to say something, he shuts her up and tells her it's none of her business how he chooses to raise his children. Except it is her business. He sleeps with her and has no one else raising him.
I wish I could do more. But for now I will continue to feed him and tell him I love him in the hopes that I can be some small difference in his life. As for all of you, back home, reading this? Please send prayers for him and all the other children in situations like this or worse. It's not only in this country, sadly. The states carry many flaws that present themselves in many forms. And if all we can do is pray and maybe show someone we love them when no one else does? We can make a bigger difference than we will ever be aware of in this lifetime. It's not much. But it's something.