Wednesday, May 29, 2013


These are my shoes, standing in my yard, amidst my flowers. And yes, I am sporting a pedicure, something I started doing for myself four years ago when my world spun out of control and I felt the need for self-care. It is a simple picture, but is says a lot about me. I have well cared for feet, I have extra money for unnecessary things like foot care and flowers. I have what I need and I have what I don't need, but think that I do.
These are Maria's feet. She has a pair of shoes but she saves them for walks up and down the mountain to harvest wood. She doesn't understand the concept of a pedicure, and she certainly would think that the thirty dollars to pay for one would be a big extravagance.
She works sixty hours on her weaving to make thirty dollars.
This (below) is her office:
When she weaves, she has to stop at dusk, because she has no lighting or electricity. Candles cost a few dollars a month, making them too expensive to burn unless absolutely necessary. She sits on the stump of wood when she works. Her craft is done in dirt, and it smells of wood smoke when it is finished. Because weaving is the main source of income for many Mayan women, the country is saturated with this product, driving the prices down. Maria's work is exquisite, but unrecognized.
Here is my office, nicer than any room Maria has ever
stood in. It has an intact roof, carpeting, climate control and lighting.  The awards on the wall were given to me during my years of service in Guatemala. But here is my best-kept secret. In our hearts, our board members know that the real award winners are the women we help. 
Put any one of us in a dirt floored hut with no bed to sleep in, contaminated water to drink and no electricity and we wouldn't last very long. Add a lifetime of hunger, lack of medical care and the inability to feed our children and we would be crawling our way out of the mountains of Guatemala. Staying there for more than a week wouldn't be an option. For Maria, there is no other option. She can't marry her way out of her position in life; she tried, but her husband died of tuberculosis. Jobs are not only unavailable in her village, but as an illiterate indigenous woman, she wouldn't qualify. So she weaves, and has her daughters do the same, because a dollar for several hours of work is better than no dollar at all. Her willingness to get up and face each day, with the multiple challenges involved, makes Maria, Candalaria, Rosa, and all of the women we help award winners.