Dear Friends, family and colleagues,
September is Hunger Action Month in the U.S. The motto, hosted by FeedingAmerica.org, is “No One Can Thrive on an Empty Stomach.”
In this vein, we write to you with an update with much good news on Maya’s biological mom, Olivia and her children, and that we can turn our attention back to the chili pepper project. Thanks to your generous donations, we now have enough funds to help Olivia set up the documents to get her name on the land she purchased when she was under age. We still need to raise the funds to send Ricardo as our conduit to Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (near the village of Chajmaic) to meet with the attorney and draw up the documents. This is a first step towards Olivia establishing independence and safety for her and her entire family.
The good news to report is that Ricardo, on his trip two weeks ago achieved the following:
- Olivia’s 9-year-old son is now living in a safe, stable private home in Cobán where he will receive love, discipline, nutrition, and attend religious services. We are contributing towards his room and board.
- Olivia has chosen to stay with her 2-year-old daughter at the safe house in Cobán. We are also paying their room and board. The safe house is committed to caring for them. Olivia will also receive basic instruction in literacy and learning Spanish, which will help her to gain strength emotionally.
- This was accomplished through an extensive meeting between Ricardo, Olivia, members of Olivia’s family and the staff of safe house. Ricardo told them that he cannot return to Cobán until January 2017.
- Commitments were made by the safe house and by Ricardo for the well-being of Olivia and her daughter, although Olivia understood that, if she leaves, we cannot take responsibility.
- It was determined that Olivia’s physical health has greatly improved in the past three months. The next step is to improve her psychological health so she will take responsibility for her well-being. In the future, we hope to address her dental needs.
As we approach the Jewish High Holy days, we are reminded of the concept of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and how connected our lives are with one another. In the summer of 2015 I told Olivia, and her sister-in-law Lety, that I was deeply committed to helping Maya reconnect with her biological roots because of my family’s experiences during the Second World War. Without saying that my father survived the Holocaust, I relayed that people in Europe killed my father’s entire family because of our religion. We just received an email from the USC Shoah Foundation, whose mission is to teach Holocaust education: they have a new series on the Guatemalan Genocide (http://bit.ly/2cuT10f) in Spanish. We believe that this is, in fact, the story of Maya’s biological family, as the guerillas did come to their region. Throughout Guatemala hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples were pillaged, violated, and murdered in Guatemala over a period of 36 years.
An important lesson about the work we are doing comes from Mother Teresa: God can open doors to accomplish what seems impossible, for those who need it most, when we are truly acting in God’s name.
For those who have given to this project, even small deeds count. They are part of the miracle that has allowed us to do as much as we have. “God has given each of us the capacity to achieve some end necessary to others. Each of us has the power to increase the sum of the world’s happiness…. Salvation can be found in the simple act of extending a hand. The humblest among us can, by shear act of will, help create heaven on earth.” (Mother Teresa’s Legacy (http://huff.to/2cadg5p), The Huffington Post, Dec. 27, 2014).
We offer blessings for the present, appreciation for the past, and hope for the future, as we forge again forward in our efforts with the chili pepper project – self-sustainability through agriculture for the remote village of Chajmaic, Guatemala.
If you are interested in donating to the project, you can do so through GoFundMe or receive a tax donation by writing a check to Sowing Opportunities, via our fiscal agent, Temple Tiferet Shalom of the North Shore.
Thank you and many blessings to you,
Fern and Ginny
This morning we are sending Ricardo funds for the legal fees to set up Olivia’s documents in her name for the land she purchased when she was under age.
Our trusted representatives in Chajmaic will travel to meet with the lawyer.
When we raise the additional funds, we will send Ricardo to oversee the transaction and to begin the chili pepper project for the village of Chajmaic.
I am attaching two precious photos from two weeks ago: (1) Olivia and her children and (2) Ricardo (far right) with the team at the Safe House.