Wednesday, November 18, 2009
meet mercedes, my hero
the politics of relief and aid are very corrupt and complicated.
the mayor's office is charged with distributing aid funds and supplies, including those from the red cross. this same mayor's office is believed to be unjustly distributing and withholding funds and supplies, depending on the political stances of families or communities.
there are good reasons why we do not give money to political parties. the FMLN has been AMAZING in helping us carry water and food on 6 hour long hikes to people who need it. we work with anyone who will help us carry supplies, but we do not give money away. it's too complicated in a country where people were poor BEFORE the landslide. its easy to get taken advantage of. i am doing my best to make sure that does not happen.
you donations are essential. they are from the heart. this is a recession. your donations are precious and i will treat them as such.
this is why we work with people like mercedes.
mercedes makes $150 a month, yet uses her personal salary to buy food for 30 elderly who are bedridden. when we had lunch today, not only did she not let me pay, but gave money to EVERY beggar who came by. she knew each one by name.
today mercedes took me to a home with an elderly woman who was writhing in bed half naked crying because her daughter that usually brings pain medicine could no longer buy it. all medicine and all money was washed away with their house, beans, and corn. livelihood washed away. mercedes cried with this woman, massaged her arms, stroked her hair. i gave her my half-drunk gatorade and the bottle of ibuprofen i had in my first aid kit in my backpack. this elderly woman has a son with arthritis. he has no medicine. he takes atribion. i hope to find this medicine and more pain medicine (i think this woman has bone cancer or something really serious, she was wailing)
when we passed mercedes house this sunday, she held me crying through her tired tears told me almost giggling...that she went home saturday night and thought she had been robbed. she had no mattress, no blankets, no water. then she realized she had given it all away because she cant bear to see her people suffer. mercedes is my hero. i am not sure i have ever met someone so generous.
mercedes made goody bags with cookies for all the FMLN youth volunteers who help us carrying food and water on foot. with what money and what time, i can only guess. she has neither time nor money. i love mercedes. who can be considerate and thoughtful in a DISASTER?!?! not me. mercedes can.
why is mercedes so awesome? she lived thru a war, is from chalatenango. she organized with maura clarke and ita ford (american nuns murdered during the salvadoran civil war in the 80s). she learned how to organic farm and has taught everyone she knows. her love for her people knows no boundaries. that is rare in such a politicized country.
mercedes not only holds her own community, santa maria, together, she is organizing other communities. she is constantly calling NGOs and finally found help for santa cruz la vega (which we will visit FINALLY on saturday). she is a dreamer. she got so jazzed today talking about possibilities for trauma therapy. this woman is turning tragedy into oppurtunity for social change. more on this little gem later.
santiago texacuangos is better now. we have food and water needs pretty much covered. mercedes is helping identify the most urgent needs, more undiscovered communities, and she takes us there.
in other good news, jenna knapp will be speaking at the SOA protest saturday morning AND running a breakout session with jen latimer. WoooHooo! if you are gonna be in fort benning this weekend FIND JENNA AND JEN
finally, i want to add that i had an extremely long and wonderful conversation with mario, who is taking me to la libertad (other area) with a group of 50 youth to help dig more people out of their homes this sunday. i cant wait to go. mario is taking me to san vicente this week, where his friend giovanni has found 11 orphans whose parents died in landslides. 7 of these children have NO family to claim them. 3 are sleeping on giovannis floor indefinately. i meet giovanni tommorrow. i fear and hope i have another hero on my hands....
please know all of your support emotional and financial, is helping me believe in humanity when everyday i kind of want to stop believing in everything. that is, until i meet inspirations like mercedes. and you.