Books Worth a Look

  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave - This book is a must read. Better than anything else I've read, it takes you vividly into the life of a person in the 3rd world who has no choice but to escape. It is brilliantly written & works well as an audio book. Often I've sent info about the wonderful refugees I've met in Europe. We know only so much of their plight as it is painful for them to recall much less live through again by recounting it. But over time it is clear what they've lived through. This book is excellent as you discover the horrors of their world. Somewhat how to me, it is like being in Europe near a Concentration Camp. One has an obligation to visit it. 'Never to Forget.' In this case, to have our eyes opened.
  • Garbage King by Eliz Laird - The book is set on the streets on Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia and here lives Mamo and his sister Tiggist. When Mamo's "uncle" offers a job, he soon sets out on a bus to work. Little does he know that he is actually being sold into slavery...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Guatemalan Family Visits me from their Pueblo

Yesterday, Santiago's family came 5 hours to meet me in Antigua. Santiago, Davi(d), is a 12 year old Guatemalan I assist through CFCA. His family of 12 lives on $70 a month.

Upon meeting we went to my homestay so we could exchange gifts. The mother helps earn some money by making by hand beautiful clothes, scarves, table coverings, bags etc. She gave me a bag Latino men ususally carry plus a lovely small square table cover. Both she made.

When you sponsor a kid in Latin America, it is not possible to send anything that is more than one inch thick. If you do it will be stolen. So coming in person is an opportunity to bring larger items.

First of all it makes sense to bring a young person a soccer ball. They cost $ 10 or 80Q here, a lot of money for a poor family. Soccer shirts, esp. of Gautemalan teams, are reasonably priced. Plus it is customary to bargain - surprisingly I've become good at that. Not my favorite thing to do, but possibly because I'm using another language, it provides some distance - seems a tad less intense, possibly.

Davi immediately put his soccer shirt on! Of course I had other items for him. Fortunately my daughter had a large suitcase she no longer needed, so I could bring items & the family could take it with them.

Being a tad of a ham (!), I gave the gifts in 3 parts with lots of comraderie. All had a lot of fun. Many pictures were taken.

I offered to take them to McDonald's or Burger King as I'm told the kids like it. BUT the family has never had a hamburger. They preferred to eat in a local Guatemalan chain restuarant. In reality they never go out to eat.

While at the restaurant, the father spoke with me at length, inviting me to their home. That is not an easy thing to do as I know it has a dirt floor, mud walls and a tin roof. He was very thankful for the support & spoke movingly. It was of course a tad difficult as one does not want lots of thanks, but given their life, it's important for them.

I was also quite happy that I could understand him as we were talking alone. I could also speak so that he understood me - definitely improvement in my Spanish!

It is difficult, possibly impossbile to express how moving & wonderful the day was. It is so easy to help someone. Chou!

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Thoughts on the amazing people I get to meet.

Rich, my 19 year old friend, soon to be Franciscan and recent community member at Haley House in Boston. An article he wrote.