Category Archives: kindness
I saw a news story years ago about the use of donkeys in some Latin American countries to bring books to remote mountain villages which are difficult to reach by vehicle. The stories of the “Biblioburros” (library donkeys) has always been one of my favorites.
Now the story of the original “Biblioburro” is coming to PBS on July 19th.
“Biblioburro” is the story of a librarian — and a library — like no other. A decade ago, Colombian teacher Luis Soriano was inspired to spend his weekends bringing a modest collection of precious books, via two hard-working donkeys, to the children of a poor and violence-ridden province. As Soriano braves armed bands, drug traffickers, snakes and heat, his library on hooves carries an inspirational message about education and a better future for Colombia. His efforts have attracted worldwide attention — and imitators — but his story has never been better told than in this heartwarming yet unsentimental film.
It’s people like this that make the world an amazing place.
Put in on your calendar so you don’t forget to tune in: Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Yerko was born in Chile, blind and partially deaf. When his parents discovered his musical talent and grew frustrated with the lack of opportunities for their son in their native country, they sold everything and came to the United States. In New York, Yerko flourished. Fitted with special hearing aids and attending the prestigious La Guardia school of the performing arts, Yerko, an honor roll student, learned to be independent and spent his days pursuing his passion but in October of 2010, U.S. Immigration deported Yerko and his family.
Now living in Chile, Yerko continues with his music, but dreams of coming back to study in the United States some day.
To read more of Yerko’s inspiring story, or to make a donation which will go towards continuing his education, visit the Hear The World foundation.
[English Translation below]
Hay un arbusto en nuestra yarda – mi mamá me lo dio unos años atras. El arbusto, por la mayoría del año, no es nada especial – lo ignoramos… hasta que esta época del año cuando salen los capullos bien redonditos. Ahora lo observamos con anticipación porque sabemos que unas flores bien grandes y lindas con un olor fuerte y dulce van a salir muy pronto.
Recientemente, yo estaba tan ocupada, tan apresurada y distraída, que olvidé completamente de mi arbustito y los capullos que estaban abriendo poco a poco.
Ayer por la tarde, cuando yo estaba lavando los platos de la cena, mi mente ya corría con millones de cosas que tengo que hacer, mi hijito entraba la cocina con una flor en la mano.
Mi primer pensamiento fue: ¿Y qué es esto? ¿Cómo floricían tan rapido? ¿Estaba yo realmente tan ocupada que se me había olvidado de tomar un momentito por chequearlas?
Mi segundo pensamiento fue: ¡Ay! Y mira este niño travieso ya ha arruinado el arbusto! Ni la cortó bien! Casi no hay nada de tronco en esta flor!
Mi hijo me dio la flor a mí. “La corté para tí”, dijo, mirándome con sus grandes ojos cafes y una sonrisa nerviosa.
Tomé una respiración profunda, le dí un abrazo y pusé la flor en un vaso pequeño. Estoy agradecida que no lo castigue. Después de todo, me hubiera perdido de ver las flores en absoluto si él no me hubiera recordado de ellas.
Supone que debo ser la que debo criar y enseñar a mis hijos, pero a veces son ellos los que me enseñan a mí.
There’s a bush in our yard – my mother gave it to me years ago. The bush, for most of the year – is nothing special – we ignore it… until this time of year when perfect little round buds emerge. Now we observe the bush with anticipation because we know the bush will soon give forth big, beautiful flowers with a sweet perfume.
Recently, I’ve been so busy, so hurried and distracted, that I forgot completely about my little bush and the buds that have been opening little by little.
Yesterday evening, while I was washing the dinner plates, my mind already running with a million things I need to do, my youngest son came into the kitchen with a flower in his hand.
My first thought was: And what is this? How did they bloom so quickly? Was I really that busy that I forgot to take even a small moment to check on them?
My second thought was: Oh! Look at this naughty child – he’s already ruined the bush! He didn’t even cut it well! There’s almost no stem on this flower!
My son handed me the flower. “I picked it for you,” he said, looking at me with his big brown eyes and a nervous smile.
I took a deep breath, gave him a hug and put the flower in a small vase. I’m thankful I didn’t chastise him. In the end, I would have completely lost my chance to see the flowers if he hadn’t reminded me of them.
It’s supposed to be me who is raising and teaching my children, but sometimes it is they who teach me.
Este es mi regalo para mi cumple que recibí de mi amiga, Claudia – y como dije a ella, “lo amo, lo amo, lo amo!” …
Es de El Salvador (la bolsa y mi amiga también! jajaja), y mira que lindos colores trae el morral! Con sólo una mirada, me manda a otro lugar en mi mente. Imagino caminando en la playa, mi cabello flotando en la brisa, la arena caliente bajo mis pies, mis chanclas en mi mano y mis pantalones enrollados hasta las rodillas. Colgado en mi hombro, mi linda bolsa. Dentro de la bolsa tendría un buen libro que me gustaría sentarme y leer cuando encuentré el lugar perfecto – un lugar donde no hay demasiada gente y puedo escuchar las olas rompiendo en la orilla mientras estaba sentada bajo el sol.
Volviendo a la realidad: Próximos tres días, frío y lluvioso. El verano no puede llegar suficientemente pronto.
Title: My satchel and a daydream
This is my birthday gift I received from my friend, Claudia – and as I told her, “I love it, love it, love it!” …
It’s from El Salvador, (the bag and my friend too! hahaha), and look how pretty the colors! With just a look, it sends me to another place in my mind. I imagine walking on the beach, my hair flowing in the breeze, warm sand under my feet, my flip-flops swinging in my hand and the legs of my jeans rolled to the knees. Hanging from my shoulder, my beautiful bag. Inside the bag would be a good book that I would sit down to read when I found the perfect place – a place where there aren’t too many people and where I can hear the waves crashing on the shore while sitting in the sun.
Back to reality: Next three days, cold and rainy. Summer can not come soon enough.
There’s a non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Programme called FreeRice.com … Basically you play educational games and while doing so, you donate food to the hungry. It is completely free.
There are various subjects you can study/play. My favorite is Spanish vocabulary (obvio!) – but they have English, as well as other languages, math, science, and more. There are also different skill levels. My kids love to play and see how much rice they can donate – in the meantime, they’re learning!
I made this video to show you a little more because I wanted to spread the word.
(The video has no audio.)
Go play now! … Don’t forget to add it to your bookmarks/favorites and tell family and friends.
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post.
It’s that time again! Suegra has been back for quite awhile now but I’m just now getting a chance to blog about all the things she brought. Besides my super chévere typewriter, queso, frijoles and T-shirts, we received many other gifts – and this isn’t even all of them. She has a fully packed suitcase back in El Salvador which she wasn’t able to bring. A visiting Tía will hopefully deliver it to us soon.
Not pictured below is a special chile spice and achiote which I asked her to buy. Apparently TACA confiscated those from her carry-on luggage. Suegra put up a fight, but it was useless – they wouldn’t allow it, (maybe it looks like powdered explosives?) … I pouted about this and the suitcase full of stuff she left behind and Carlos rightfully chastised me. “Look at all this stuff you got! And what did I get?” he asked, looking around.
I held up a plastic baggy with a little bundle of crusty old gauze inside it, “this?” I said, holding up the bag that contained his umbilical cord which Suegra had brought back with her from El Salvador.
“That’s right,” Carlos said, snatching the baggy. “You got a typewriter and I got my old belly button.”
Here are some more of our souvenirs, (no umbilical cord photos included because that’s icky.)
Carlos can’t complain either. He got a Jesus towel. I’m glad this wasn’t gifted to me. I think I’d feel uncomfortable actually using it.
Carlos also got an image of San Antonio, who was his father’s favorite saint.
…And he got his school I.D. from when he was in middle school. Is it wrong that I find him incredibly guapo despite the Menudo hair and the fact that he’s about 13 years old in that photo?
Our younger son got this little bag which is called a “morralito.” Carlos says fútbol players use them to carry their bottled water to the field.
Want to see more souvenirs?
I still really haven’t had closure to the whole Clementino situation. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out Part I and Part II.) What kind of closure am I expecting? I don’t think there can really be any. I’ve tried to put words to how I feel about all this, mostly for myself, so I can untangle it and move on. Unrequited love is one of those tragic things that I find difficult to process, no matter which side of the equation I happen to be on.
This would all be hilarious that I’m suffering all sorts of angst over this piropo if Clementino was just looking for casual sex and doesn’t really love me. I’ve tried to convince myself of that but Suegra told me something that makes me think otherwise.
She went to the market the other day with my older son to buy phone cards. Clementino’s wife was at the counter and Suegra said she could hear Clementino in one of the aisles stocking shelves. Suegra bought the phone cards and then requested to purchase Bubu Lubus, (for me of course.)
Well, Suegra says that as soon as she said the words “Bubu Lubus,” – Clementino raced to the front, almost tripping over himself. He came out to the front counter, and seeing Suegra at the register, started looking around the rest of the store. When he presumably saw that I wasn’t there, he went back to re-stocking shelves.
To make sure Suegra wasn’t just making up stories, I asked my older son and he said that’s exactly what happened.
So anyway, yesterday was Valentine’s Day and I received a package in the mail covered in hearts. The boys hoping there was something for them inside despite my name being on it, watched me open it. I pulled out a 24 pack box of Bubu Lubus.
My youngest son looked at the Bubu Lubus and the hearts all over the envelope and jumped to conclusions.
“Woah!” he said, “Are those from Clementino?”
I assured him they weren’t. Silly cipote. Then Carlos came home and seeing the box of Bubu Lubus and heart patterned envelope raised an eyebrow.
“Who are those from?” he asked.
“My friend, Amanda!”
“….Hm….are you sure?”
I showed him the shipping address as proof. Obviously, Carlos is still thinking about the Clementino situation too.
Read: Clementino Parts 4, 5, 6
(English translation in italics below!)
Usualmente cuándo viene mi suegra de El Salvador, me trae recuerdos, (ya tú sabes!) Los recuerdos son típicos de El Salvador, y a veces, predecibles – pero esta vez que regreso mi suegra, me trajo una sorpresa. El regalo que me trajo ella no sólo es lo más chévere regalo que he recibido de El Salvador, pero es uno de los regalos más chivo que he recibido en todo mi vida!
Usually when my mother-in-law comes from El Salvador, she brings me souvenirs, (you already know that!) The souvenirs are typical of El Salvador and sometimes predictable – but this time when my mother-in-law returned, she brought me a surprise. The gift she brought me is not only the most awesome gift I’ve received from El Salvador, but one of the coolest gifts I’ve received ever!
¿Puedes adivinar lo que está adentro de la caja?
Can you guess what’s inside the case?
Es una máquina de escribir! A veces siento que mi suegra no entiende exactamente que hago aquí en la computadora escribiendo todo el día – que ella piensa que estoy muy floja, pero tal vez me respeta en su manera.
It’s a typewriter! Sometimes I feel that my mother-in-law doesn’t understand exactly what I do on the computer writing all day – that she thinks I’m really lazy, but maybe she respects me in her way.
Mi hijito estaba más fascinado que yo. Me dijo, “Esto es lo qué usaban cuándo no habian computadoras?”
My youngest son was even more fascinated than I was. He said, “Is this what they used before computers?”
Ay! Pero qué lindo! Tiene la “ñ”!
Oh my gosh! How cute is that? It has the “ñ”!
Quién dijo que las máquinas de escribir son obsoletas? No puedo imaginar usandola por escribir un manuscrito, pero quizás puedo usarla por blogear?
Who said typewriters are obsolete? I can’t imagine using it to write a manuscript, but perhaps I can still use it to blog?
My mother ordered a freezer to be delivered to my house this morning. I don’t really want a freezer since there isn’t room in our casita, but the reason my mother wanted us to have it is so that she can put food in it, y en todo honestidad, when someone offers us comida, we don’t turn it down.
Anyone with a blue collar job like my husband, particularly in any sort of construction-related industry, pueden decirte, the winter months are difficult. They cut hours at work and think nothing of sending everyone home for an entire week, (which is what we’re looking at end of December. A whole week without a pay check! Feliz Navidad, right?)
Ni modo, we always manage to survive. Some would say Padre Dios is looking out for us, others might say we’ve got hustle, a little suerte doesn’t hurt either – pero la pura neta es que, it’s all of those things – and we have good familia that care about us on top of it.
So anyway, the freezer – I told Carlos last night that it would be delivered and he says, “Behave yourself.”
“What does that mean?”
“With the delivery guys.”
“You know they’re going to be Latino.”
“Carlos! No sabes! Don’t stereotype.”
“I guarantee they’ll be Latino… behave…”
Typical Carlos. Siempre celoso! Well, the delivery time was between the hours of 9 am and 11 am, but I’ve had too many delivery men show up early when I’m half-naked, so I got ready early this morning. Sure enough, at 8:30 am, without even a phone call for warning, the doorbell rings. I open the door and there is the delivery guy … Latino, por supuesto, and looking sort of like Tito El Bambino.
Here’s the thing, Carlos knows, as shy as I am and even though I think he trusts me, I can be a flirt, and that’s why he told me to “behave”. So when the delivery guy asked me in a thick accent if he should use the back door or front door (not a euphemism! Don’t be malpensados!), I had to resist the urge to break out the Spanish. I knew that if I started speaking Spanish then the delivery would become less business-like and I would end up chatting, (even though one of the first things I tell people, by way of explanation for why I’m a Spanish-speaking gringa, is “Mi esposo es de El Salvador”.)
So the guy disappears back to the truck to get the freezer, and returns with his partner, (another Latino but not particularly cute.) They bring the freezer in and he asks me where I want it, (again, not a euphemism!) …I tell him in halting English, (because the word “cocina” almost stumbled off my tongue), that the kitchen is fine. I sign my name on his clipboard, and I can tell he’s dying to ask me. He keeps looking me in the eye, curiously glancing around the house, (papel picado, a Virgin of Guadalupe vela, a wall hanging that says “Dios bendiga este hogar”, maracas hanging on a door knob, a game of Lotería on the bookshelf)…then he looks at my signature, (how I love the little accent over the ó in López!), smiles, and tells me to have a good day, while giving me a backward glance – one last chance to out myself, but I closed the door without speaking a word of Spanish.
So, you can tell Carlos, I “behaved”, but this got me thinking… Do any of you ever have difficulty deciding in which language to conduct yourself when among others who are bilingual? Sometimes when I meet someone I don’t know who begins speaking heavily accented English, and I can safely assume they are Latino – I’m not sure whether it’s an insult to switch to Spanish or not? (As if I’m implying their English isn’t good enough.) I’ve done it before, and people usually seem relieved, smile and open up so much more once they can speak their native language.
Pero, here’s the thing – when I’m speaking Spanish and the person I’m talking to responds in English, I become really annoyed. There’s this chica at one of the Latino markets, (una creída que me cae mal) who does this to me every pinche time. It looks like the most ridiculous thing in the world – me speaking Spanish, and her responding in English. It’s frustrating and I feel avergonzada in front of the other customers.
(This situation not to be confused with switching back and forth between English and Spanish with friends. That is part of a comfortable flow of conversation which I enjoy.)
Okay, what are your thoughts? Hablar o no hablar? That is the question…
“I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.” – Jon Stewart
The history of Thanksgiving we’ve come to know growing up in American public schools is little more than a fairy tale. The true history is muddled in uncertainty, contradiction, controversy and outright lies.
While I’m certainly not a historian and therefore not qualified to delve into this with any voice of authority, I can say one thing for certain – If it weren’t for the kindness and generosity of the Native Americans to the new immigrants to this land, they would not have survived.
Many tribes reached out to these new people and taught them how to fertilize, grow, harvest and preserve crops. They showed them which foods were safe to eat, instructed them on methods of hunting and fishing, and gave them many gifts.
What did they receive in return? Lies. Broken promises. Treaties that could never be trusted. Being forced into small parcels of land. Loss of their freedom, culture, language, way of life… Death.
Even today the indigenous people who cared for this land, in a way we do not today, are suffering the consequences of past generations.
This isn’t a guilt trip for white people, or others who were born here in the United States. Is it your fault? Did you personally steal, rape and pillage? No. And I don’t think we can hold people accountable for the sins of their ancestors. We’re all individuals responsible for our own behavior. But there is a lesson to be learned.
What we can do, is to live in harmony with those around us and teach our children to do the same – To be thankful for what we have and to share with others, including new immigrants from all over the world that come here to the U.S. – To live the example of those tribes who reached out to a people from an entirely different culture, race and language – To be thankful for what we have, and when we have an abundance, give to those who are not as fortunate.
After all, today’s “undocumented immigrants” are just modern day Pilgrims.
“Great spirit, grant me vision
that I may not go wrong
and find myself in prison
of things I have not done
Teach me the secret
that I might see
fill my heart with compassion
to love my enemy.”
-Robby Romero/Prayer Song