While in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico last month, I had the privilege of visiting a unique after school program for indigenous young kids. One of our fellow house mates at the homestay my husband and I were staying at introduced me to the woman who started this program. The director, 82-year-old Elsa, originally moved to Mexico to as she put it "to drop out". However, one day Elsa, handed out 8 new pencils to the children who would slowly walk by her home on their way down the dusty road from their public primary school. From there, it has flourished into a daily arts program with dozens of students, guided with love by Elsa, a Julliard graduate, and local volunteers. They offer painting, weaving on a loom, handwork, and more. Basically, she saw a need and little by little she now directs a full fledged after school programs for kids from kindergarten to high school. The school is called Ojala Niños, which means “hope” or God Willing”.
Additionally, a hot meal is also provided. As a non profit, help is always needed. Learn more at http://ojala-ninos.org
It was quite moving, humbling and inspiring to see the difference one person can make. The impact she has had on so many who otherwise would not have a place to go to after school and would may not realize the talents they have that might well help they lead a very different life.
It seems that until we can look at each other as equals, we will not be able to have genuine peace. Really, it's only when we view "the other" as inferior to us, even in subtle ways, that a divide begins. When we see "other" rather than "we", it's ok that the other person doesn't have quite as much as we do, it's ok when benefits are cut (as long as it doesn't effects us); its ok that we bomb another country. This type of escalation happens so quickly we often do not realize the effects until it is full blown.
My encouragement is to view each other as equals from the beginning, celebrate our differences and the richness of our diversity. Extend kindness, extend help, extend compassion. We can do better. We must do better. We can Act As One.
This quote by Ram Dass has been around for a while but I never tire of it. Always a good reminder.
Let's be like trees.
In these vitriolic times, we seem to have confused wisdom with a sharp wit that can identify the weakness in someone, or in their argument. Attacking does not equal wisdom.As challenging as it is, I believe that now more than ever, it's imperative for us to begin reframing our conversations with each other.
Let's take that deep breath, pause before we speak. Try, desperately at times, to find our commonality . Start from there.
We can do better. We must do better. We can Act As One.
Yesterday, as I started to receive messages from a few friends at the Oceti Sakowin camp encouraging us not to go due to weather, I felt deeply disappointed and was still considering going until the camp sent out an official notice informing us that no one would be allowed into the camp until the weather improved.
So it is with a heavy heart that our trip has been cancelled. However, we are in contact with a local organization that will leave for Standing Rock as soon as the weather clears and we will coordinate with them to take all the wonderful supplies that have been donated.
The photo doesn’t fully show all the supplies. We have over a dozen show boots, wool blankets and socks, thermal gloves, warm heavy snow coats and jackets, ski pants, head lamps, batteries, flashlights, foodstuffs, etc.!! And many of these items are new; people actually went out and bought items to donate. My heart is full of gratitude.
Thank you all who donated and are continuing to keep the brave water protectors in your thoughts and prayers.
I also have nearly $3000 dollars to transfer directly to the camp!