Have you ever spoken with one of those people who seem to utter the most golden of quotes within every other sentence they speak to the point that you're scrambling to remember exactly how they put it? But then, when you go to repeat them, the phrases echo hollow and fall flat? Well, Father Alex (who is the Padre of the three parishes here in Alto Cayma and runs all of their programs including the clinic, knitting group, and a school just to name a few things) is full of such phrases. I spoke with him this afternoon, beginning to wrap things up since I'll be traveling the rest of this week and then leaving next Wednesday evening. It was so inspiring to talk to him and I'll just go ahead and give you tidbits of what he said although it will not be as powerful without him saying it.
He spoke of how culture is living life in a community and how one must respect the culture, seeing it (and living it out) as neither good or bad but just different. And how the knitting circles are just one way in which to bring dignity to a group of women who come to find they are now in community. See? Not as powerful but if you saw Father's eyes and the clench of his jaw while he said these things, you would be just as impressed by them and the determination behind them.
As with Fair Trade, the relationship with the people comes first; building community and restoring dignity to each individual is the driving force behind all of his programs. Andrea and the knitting ladies create beautiful knit scarves, sweaters, toys, etc. but they also are creating a circle of understanding and support for each other.
Following are a few pictures of me trying my hand at sewing on spots for a dog finger puppet (note the cheesy smile - you have no idea how many times I pulled out my handiwork until Andrea showed me deftly how to create what I wanted).
Also are some pictures of Lauren and me in our matching mochillas (backpacks) bringing the donated medical supplies (thank you Esther Petrie!) down to the clinic.