Archive for May, 2010

Working man

Our friend here puts on an ironed shirt and pair of slacks each day and goes out to sell peanuts. He can’t hear well and he has to stop several times while making his way up an alley of steps. But he’s still contributing to his family’s income and has a friendly disposition.

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I’ve been tasked to provide a detailed list of the girls’ expenses at the Internado. So yesterday, I went to Buen Pastor and sat with all the madres to pin down costs. We discussed everything from the girls’ evening tea to their five pairs of uniform socks. For instance, the girls drink 9 liters of milk and eat 3 kilos of beans a day!  It was actually very sweet putting together this list with them because stories would come out and it was interesting to see what they gave importance to (i.e. Madre Berta pointing out all the soap it takes to get those uniforms clean!). It really made clear all it takes to run a home for 30 happy girls.

Even more astonishing are the salaries.  For instance, our dedicated social worker often arrives at 7am and has been leaving close to 10pm ever since Madre Lourdes fractured her fibula. She represents the girls at their school, meets with teachers, makes home visits on weekends, is a constant presence for the girls and does a little bit of everything. She is always moving. For her hard work, she only receives $6000 pesos a month, which is $465 USD. The government does not pay her in the summer, so she’s looking at a dry three months in front of her. There has to be a way to compensate her, and we’re hoping we find one soon.  There is so much that goes into running a loving place for children, sheltering families, taking care of your elders, and running a school.  When you think of this happening with just a handful of people on next to nothing, it’s incredible that Buen Pastor is still around doing great things.

In the end, if you add it all up, it costs $6.07 a day to feed, board, and nurture a girl with loving staff. Buen Pastor has been running for 105 years, caring for women and girls from all over Mexico. We’re hoping that with grants and people like the social worker, Buen Pastor can keep on truckin’ for another 105.

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We’re nearing an end with our Adobe Youth Voices project with the girls at Buen Pastor. Last Thursday, we reviewed what we had done and what we have left to do. We were ready to culminate all that we had learned together and to let the girls share their stories by putting together interviews, photography, video, and recordings in a DVD.   This week, we needed to decide what story they would tell.

We divided the girls into two groups to discuss these questions:

  1. What is it like having two homes: Buen Pastor on the weekdays and family on weekend?
  2. What is great and not so great about being a girl?
  3. What kind of person would you like to be when you’re an adult?

The girls responses were playful at times, and thoughtful at others. For the most part, the girls enjoyed having two homes.  They thought it gave them an advantage in that they met more people and learned how to take care of themselves. “The madres teach us everything so when we leave our families, we can take care of our own homes” said one girl.  Surprisingly, some of the girls thought they had more freedom at Buen Pastor and were more restricted at home.

What’s great about being a girl, specifically, a teenage girl:

  • Well, you don’t have to pay bills yet.
  • You’re not old yet.
  • You can still act like you’re little.

And not so great?

  • Sometimes, girls this age get very upset over nothing.
  • You have to be careful not to get in trouble with boys.
  • Fitting in.

Admirably, many of the girls expressed an attitude of altruism when they grow up. They want to create shelters for people who have nothing, and make sure nobody goes without food. This was the most popular response.  Other girls thought about their careers and being successful bread winners as adults. “Kind, thoughtful, honest, respectable” were characteristic that many aspired to.

The two groups joined again. We shared responses to get an idea of the story we wanted to tell. Then some of the girls went with Beca to record their thoughts using audio equipment, while Katie and I took the rest of the girls and instructed them to take photos of images that referenced their life at Buen Pastor and the discussion we had just had.  After a bit, the girls swapped audio for photograph, and vice-versa. Finally, in the end, we all came back together and had a lot of fun with the audio equipement. Monica and Daneli thrilled us with their demonic voices and nobody can impersonate an Española better than Vanessa!

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Masks of Lilith

I’ll be meeting two students later today who want to put together a summer curriculum for the kids in the shelter.  They’re both committed to service. One of them just finished volunteering at an orphanage in Oaxaca.  The other is getting ready to graduate in December with a degree in Spanish and Global Studies.  I’m optimistic about what they’ll bring to Buen Pastor this summer.

Afterwards, I’ll head over to meet friends for a couple of cold ones before we all go see a modern dance show that’s supposed to be genius: The Masks of Lilith – Hyperbole of Memory. Yay for Fridays!

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Location: Temezcuitate and to the left of the window below.

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Temezcuitate lines

The other night, I walked up Temezcuitate to the Panoramica and then home, like I always do.  My legs were tired and I was with F who doesn’t charge up the hill, but takes a more measured pace as we subir. The room inside this window was so eerie, I stopped to take a photo. But all I got were the reflections from outside.

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F and I went to Cine Club last night to see The Lovely Bones. While we waited to go inside, we checked out some of the student art. PLOP made us laugh.  I suppose inspiration is to be found everywhere.

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