Wednesday, November 26, 2014

El Día de la Eliminación de la Violencia Contra la Mujer

25 de noviembre 2014

Today is El Día de la Eliminación de la Violencia Contra la Mujer.

We had all the kids in one classroom this morning. Some munchkins did a drama and shared a poem. We watched a few videos. Each teacher then spoke of what that meant and how we can fight it.  They said it all but then it was my turn. I had to fight back the tears I was sharing with a few from the crowd that I saw bowing their heads, trying to hide. I know their stories.

But all I did was assign them homework. To go home and hug their mothers, father, grandmothers, siblings, aunts, uncles, whoever in the home. Told them that we have two arms and two hands and WE choose what to do with them. Today, we chose to hug instead of hit. 

When they left, I received over 15 hugs from my kiddos and upon visiting one family shortly after class let out, a mother told me that her son came home and immediately gave her a big hug.

My heart is heavy, sharing the pain of those that I know suffer from this reality. But it is also filled with love for those few that DO listen and DO try and make a difference. No matter how small. All they need is someone who cares and someone who shows them that their hands can, in fact, be used for love.

Our Blood Runs Together

23 de noviembre 2014

Last Monday Kilvio and I took a trip to Mao. We had brought a letter to the director of agriculture in DaJabon and he sent the letter to the main man in Mao, the next level up in the ministry. A week later, Casilda called and we set up the date to meet him personally to discuss the office and its fate. Unfortunately, that Sunday before, Casilda's son fell very ill and they had to take him to the hospital in Santiago. So Monday morning I arose at 4am and Kilvio and I alone caught the 5:45am bus from Loma to head to Mao, about two hours away. We arrived a little early, drank a cafecito in the park and chatted for a bit, hoping the fate of the office would be stated that day. We took another little guagua to the office and met the regional director. He seems like a good man. Spoke of the difficulties of obtaining an office and reiterated that it would be a shared office, just like we agreed. But the decision wasn't his to make. He has to send the letter and project proposal even higher up in the Ministry, to the office in the capital. And then he softened a bit. We discussed the dire necessity in our little community and he said he understood. He shared a moment that he remembers to this day of when he saw his first book when he was little in his campo school. He was in sixth grade, it was red, and about Juan Pablo Duarte. He remembers vividly picking it up and feeling it for the first time and how the pages smelled, brand new. Incredible. He couldn't give us a date of when he would bring the letter and when the committee was going to come to see the office (they HAVE to see it personally to gauge the condition before making a decision) because he said he's a man of his word. So if he says a date, he doesn't like to fail.
So with a hand shake goodbye, a promise of a phonecall, and a twinkle behind the horribly magnified glasses, we were off, left with newfound hope but the same old standstill. We made three store stops and made the bus by 10:30am back to Loma. I had to wait in Loma for an hour and a half for something to Mariano but I made it eventually.

So why three stores you ask? Bags. Bags? Yes. To do this:

The day I spent putting up the lights in my house and making a star, I had Casilda come over to give me advice on where to put the last strand. Afterwards, she sat and cried and cried with me in my house. Saying how every year at Christmas she decorates her house. But this year, it's just not in her. Her six kids want it but she doesn't have the drive or energy to do it. So that same Sunday she left for Santiago with her son, I collected her kids and asked what kinds of things they used to do to decorate. Told them that we were to going to make something to surprise their mom. Jose took charge and was the genius behind it all. I didn't quite understand the concept of this tree but I bought three packets of each colored bag (about 100 bags in each packet at $10 pesos a packet) thinking it was plenty. Ha.
That night we started. The kids found a wooden pole for the middle, a nail, wire for the branches and made stakes with a machete and sticks. The base was formed, we cut all of the bags in half and started tying knots. So so many knots. But the bags ran out, and fast. With those three packets all cut in half, we managed to finish one single branch. Haha so for precisely that reason, three stores later in Mao, I walked away with 9 more packets of EACH color (30 packets in total-3,000 individual bags, cut in half=6,000 bags to tie). When I arrived Monday in Mariano, I headed there around 4pm alone. Slowly but surely kids would pass by, stop, and ask if they could help. Claro! At one point, I think I had almost 20 kids working at once, all around the tree. And at 10pm with the headlight of a moto to illuminate our work, we finished. Using every last bag bought and cut. I can't even describe how blessed I felt and how proud I was of all my kiddos in the community who worked tirelessly to finish it in just two nights.

The gang in the end. We then made flowers out of plastic bottles we found in the street and I added glitter to make some designs (again, Jose? Creative Genius). The center of each flower is the cap of the bottle.

One set we put on the door and two more on either side of the window. 
When she arrived, she cried. And told us she was mad at us while hugging me tighter than she's ever hugged me before :) She wants to finish with a few special touches of her own and then we are going to take some family photos. I'll post when the time comes.

I think God made a mistake in not telling me I had a sister in another country. And that I had nephews and nieces that I would love as if we shared the same blood. But como quiera our blood runs together. And though He made a mistake, I'll forgive Him. Because after all this time and all the crazy confusion of where I belonged here in this country of mango trees and bachata music, He finally sent me here to meet them. And to love them unconditionally.
And who can stay mad at God for very long, anyways?