This is the fifth in a series of blogs from our Founder, John Kerr, reflecting on his recent trip to Oaxaca.
We are in day 4, approximately, in what is rapidly becoming one of the greatest trips to Oaxaca I have ever taken. And I haven’t even gotten to talking about three wonderful highlights that will come later: Cheli, our amazing law school graduate who spent her childhood at Pimpollo and took a week of precious vacation time to come down from Guadalajara so we could do this together; Aida, another Pimpollo, who is an Industrial Engineering graduate, living in the Oaxaca area, who took a large part of the week to join us; and third, our fun and lively party for all the Pimpollos living in the area that we could find. Later on those three…back to my Rx of Two Flowers per Day for Two Days…
Everything was going great—really great—and I didn’t really think I needed any more medicine, but you are suppose to take it all, right? I certainly wasn’t expecting anything, but about 10:00 am we were at Símbolos Patrios and here comes Noemi, with her mom, Lucy, sister Arely (who is two years older than Noemi), and Noemi’s little brother, David.
Noemi came up to me kind of like she was a representative of the whole family and gave me another flower, completing my prescription. There were kids running around—I mean we are on a play ground at recess—but there were no words—just a cute, really cute little kid making 13 years of an old guy’s life worthwhile…that’s all. Nothing more to it. Yes, Noemi, I accept this rose—and it was a rose. I think. (I still have it. I will ask Karen.)
So here I am, standing with this beautiful family. They are expressing their appreciation in the very best way they know how, and to me it is the absolutely very best way it could ever be done. Things go quiet for a moment—just long enough for me to reflect on what has happened on this site in the past 12 years.
This school has gone from three, pretty ugly tin shack schoolrooms on the outside (though beautiful on the inside because they were chuck-a-bluck full of cute kids!) with so few books and notebooks that it made my friend Ellen cry on our first visit. Today, there are seven permanent, beautiful classrooms and a permanent kitchen where they serve a nutritious meal every day. In addition, the attendance has gone from about 78 kids to up to 140 since we started the breakfast program, and there is now a computer lab with 10 computers and beautiful tables and chairs.
The Símbolos Patrios story is an incredibly one and FOP has been in the middle of it from day one. (Remember Ellen?) I will write this story in greater detail soon so our donors, team members, supporters and staff can enjoy the remarkable accomplishments they have brought about at the Símbolos Patrios School.
But what about Lucy?
Having the opportunity to spend some time at Símbolos Patrios with Lucy and her family was an unexpected pleasure. Lucy and Boni were showing me the kitchen and explaining Lucy’s job, and then we just hung out for a while. It was the day of the grand opening of the computer lab and the covered basketball court. There weren’t many classes going on. I noticed that Lucy was using a few English words—only a few—but we were able to communicate really well—my lousy Spanish notwithstanding.
Lucy has three children. Arely is now eleven, Noemi is nine, and David is seven.
Lucy works two jobs. At one, she washes clothes for a family that has money, but these jobs pay notoriously little. At the second, she is one of the cooks at our Oaxaca Kids Can program. She has these jobs so she can keep track of her kids and keep them in school. This is very important to her. And get this—she has found a way to enroll in accounting classes and she goes into Oaxaca for these classes!!! She is able to do this all while being a single mom.
It is heartwarming to see Lucy interact with her kids. They are all very affectionate and it appears that they are a unit and lean on each other. I asked them who gets the best grades. They all seemed pretty proud when they pointed at their mom and said, “Mama does. She get’s 9’s!”
“It is not how much we do. It is how much love we put in the doing.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta