Sunday, August 9, 2015

Mark Twain's Philosphy

Finding Freedom through Friendship board members tend to be the kind of people who like adventure of all kinds. They are emotionally open, physically hardy and  willing to entertain the thought of approaching the unknown.  Our board members have either traveled to Central America, or have supported the efforts of someone who does. Boarding a plane to a country as complex, fascinating and culturally intriguing as Guatemala stretches our comfort zones and allows us to shake off our constricted views of mankind. The commonality of the human experience can't be ignored when faced with the challenges of traveling.
A Mayan work of textile art
If we had not ventured into the mountains above Santa Tomasa, in Solola, Guatemala, our team would have missed an education in how traditional Guatemalan fabric is made, one stitch and one inch at a time. The American desire for inexpensive ready made clothing leaves us far removed from the cultural artistry of the Mayan textile weavers hidden in the niches of Guatemala's mountains. What a fascinating afternoon we spent watching Rebeca kneeling with her back strap loom, lacing threads through her loom that created a visual history of her culture. We left her home feeling a renewed determination to work on our micro business aspect of Finding Freedom, so that the many hours of weaving bring a fair trade price for the artists who practice this ancient and beautiful art.
100 Lbs of donated corn
Visiting Isabel and delivering some of her FFF donated food staples gave us a glimpse of the opposite version of "fast food." When we donate corn to a widow in our program, it is delivered in 100 lb bags. Turning what you see in this photo into tortillas is a practice in patience. Soaking, rinsing, grinding and then hand forming the tortillas takes more than 8 hours of waiting and working. Finding, harvesting and chopping the wood to cook with makes the process a tad bit more labor intensive.
Our FFF trip participants left with renewed awareness and appreciation of the ease of a typical American meal preparation. 

Fuel for cooking on wood stoves
 The best lessons learned while traveling to Guatemala are these: we have more in common than we have differences. Women throughout the world labor out of love for their families. Their methods look different but the reasons are the same. Traveling home we will think back to the sounds of the logs being split, the acrid smell of ash as tortillas sear on iron stoves. We remember the feel of the textured fabrics, telling their stories through woven designs significant to individual villages hidden in the steep mountains. 
We travel home with the face print embedded in our heart of a culture different in a multitude of ways from our own, but that feels familiar all the same. 


International relations, the FFF way