Monday, October 1, 2012
The Question Game.
This is the first time I blog for DiscoverHope. It is very fitting that this writing is happening exactly on the anniversary of the very first event I attended for this wonderful organization: Band Together For Hope. A year later, I am typing away from the courtyard of a hotel in Cajamarca, Peru, DiscoverHope’s birth place.
Why am I involved with this organization? As a Latino, I was very moved by the fact that the founder and all its “Boardies” were not. How could a woman that had no connection to the Latino culture be so dedicated to empowering women living in poverty in Latin America? I had to learn more about it and I had to get involved. I thank Maggie for inviting me to witness the progress of the program and to meet the women we are empowering.
The first item on the schedule was a visit to the Hope House. This is the development center where all the education and support happens for our women. There are many Microcredit organizations around the world, but DiscoverHope goes a step further and provides education that teaches women real world skills that they can apply to starting their own businesses. This is our Microcredit Plus model, pioneered by Maggie Miller.
We walked in to a sewing class where women were learning the necessary skills to start their own businesses. I must say that nothing could have prepared me to deal with the emotions that flowed within me. All of the sudden, I knew exactly why I needed to make this trip.
The class was waiting for us with their new sewing machines that they had purchased by fundraising on their own. The machines will allow them to create clothing they will sell in their businesses. The pride that the women showed in their faces was very moving. A lot of these women deal with domestic issues and discrimination on a daily basis. Machismo in this country, as in many others around the world, is very much alive and a harsh reality for women. On paper, it is easy to understand why these women benefit from a program such as DiscoverHope. The reality, and real value in my opinion, is what a chart or report can’t show you. These women are full of pride, perseverance, strength, and hope. One by one, they introduced themselves to us they told us about how DiscoverHope gave them the tools to learn skills that sparked their own businesses. What I saw is their confidence to look at our eyes and speak with pride about their accomplishments: This is priceless. Their kids, and especially their daughters, can grow up knowing that they can have their own power.
Everybody that knows Maggie knows that she is an amazing human being. Spending time in Cajamarca, witnessing the impact that she has had in this community is a truly humbling experience. Those of us lucky enough to be close to her know that she challenges us to grow every day. You can count on having a “Daily Question” from Maggie right before the end of any day. While at dinner, John and I got our “Question” for the day. Her question was, “After your first day in Cajamarca, what is one thought you would like to share?”
After a day full of mixed emotions, I actually had been thinking about my answer to her question right after we visited The HopeHouse. My answer was: After talking to the women we help, after listening to their stories, after witnessing the impact that we are having in their lives, … how could life, for me, could ever be the same? We all have problems in our own lives. It all seems so insignificant compared to the challenges that these women live with every day.
I definitely know why I am part of this organization. I know why I had to make this trip. But, most importantly, I know why I was afraid to come here. I have been “asleep” for so long, worried only about myself. This trip, already on the first day, awakened me into reality and purpose. I welcome you to dig deep and realize that, if you are even reading this note, you are a very fortunate person.
I look forward to sharing more from my experience in Cajamarca through this blog and in person at the Gala on October 25th.
Con mucho amor,