Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dreams into deeds

The last two weeks have been quite busy – including a second bout of diarrhea and a good number of visits to the countryside. There is much I could write about but something very simple touched me today.

If you have been reading my blog, you may remember that I have been working with the village of Piedras Coloradas for the last few months to help them work together to be a real faith-based community.

At the first meeting in April I asked them to  identify their successes – they have a base community and a church; they have water (though it’s not enough); they pressured the mayor of the municipality to have two bridges built since they were isolated during parts of the rainy season when vehicles couldn’t cross the streams; they had provided money for a study for a project to bring electricity to the village and to provide their mandatory contribution to the project; they also had obtained land for a cancha, a soccer field.

I also have asked them in a meeting to dream about what they hope their village will be and, more recently, they have talked about priorities, which include electricity, housing, food security, and soccer.

Today, Sunday, returning from a visit to the Mayan Ruinas outside of Copán Ruinas with two visiting seminarians of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, I passed by the field and saw a game in progress. Seeing Julio Alonso Rivas and his father, Luís Alfonso Rivas there, I stopped. The cancha is fixed enough that the village team was playing a team from a nearby village and had blue jerseys! 

I didn’t do anything but help them get thinking about what they could do – and they followed through. Having a team is very important for rural villages - and it's also a great way to keep the young interested in their community.

While I was standing there, Julio Alonso told me that the electric project is proceeding. They have to mark where the electric poles will be placed and will have to remove the trees in the way. Another step toward making a dream real.

A big concern will be housing. There are two woefully inadequate houses – one for a single mother with 6 kids, the other for an elderly couple who care for three grandchildren.  I challenged them when I met them on July 2 to think about what they could do – even though they are very poor and have no money to fix the houses. They formed a six person committee – 3 men and 3 women – to begin to think about what could be done to help both families. I reminded them I don’t have funds but I told that they should try to think imaginatively about ways to help -  including seeking help from the municipal government. This will be more challenging and I may end up trying to find funds for this and related projects. But I want them to have a sense that they are the protagonists and to remind them that they have done much and can do a lot more.

It’s a small village (14 houses) but I think it’s a good place to begin. And something has begun.

1 comment:

Billie Greenwood said...

What a powerful testimony! Thanks for sharing this, John. Never discount the importance of your work. Your asking the questions and listening with respect to their answers set off a chain of events that likely wouldn't have happened otherwise. I really appreciate you.