Hope Makes One Live

While blog readers across the country and bored Facebook scrollers have had a few months vacation of not having to read my posts, I figured today of all days is an important day to temporarily halt the hiatus and offer up a few words.

The past few months have been an incredible whirlwind, to say the least, and I’m so fortunate for the experiences I have been able to have. Moving back to Peru to gain more clinical experience and returning to Guatemala to serve the beautiful people of Sumpango were without a doubt among the highlights, but tonight’s focus is on Haiti.

Last month, I was lucky enough to have worked alongside an incredible group of mental health professionals in Croix des Bouquets with Global Trauma Research—an organization whose meaningful and impactful work goes beyond limits. While in Haiti, we had the opportunity to work with medical providers, teachers, lawyers, and both religious and community leaders—all of whom had one goal: learn more about mental health and find ways to provide sustainable mental health care in their community.

While I’ll go into details about the trip later on, I want to bring to light the fact that Haiti suffered a catastrophic earthquake on this day eight years ago that devastated the lives of so many. One and a half million people were displaced, between 200,000-300,000 people were killed, and hundreds of thousands were left injured. While we read about natural disasters that take place across the globe on a frequent basis, it’s important to note the horrendous tragedy that struck this truly beautiful country as we remember those who were lost eight years ago. 

On this day of remembering the tragedy that struck the people of Haiti eight years ago, we must also be cognizant of the fact that the people of Haiti have been mistreated, exploited, and neglected (putting it lightly), not only by their own government, but by many across the globe as well. However unjust the treatment towards Haiti has been, the people of Haiti have an inspiring, unwavering strength, and (amongst many other attractions,) that, in and of itself makes this country a beautiful one.

While I have yet to learn Haitian Creole, I did learn the saying “Lespwa fè viv,” or “Hope makes one live.” Through all the adversity and challenges they have faced, the Haitian people have persevered time and time again. I saw firsthand how the people of Haiti continue to push forward with hope for a brighter tomorrow, and having worked alongside such inspiring leaders in the community while abroad, I truly believe that this brighter tomorrow is most definitely a possibility.

Global Trauma Research offered the following words of support and encouragement on this eighth anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010: http://mailchi.mp/a50121b84e76/gtr-fall-17-newsletter-317931
FullSizeRender-11.jpg
Advertisements

Running For A Cause: Part 1

This upcoming Sunday, January 24th, I’ll be running in the Miami Half Marathon to raise money and awareness for Misioneros Del Camino—a home for orphaned, abandoned, and malnourished children in Guatemala. Over the course of the next few days, I’ll be writing about Misioneros Del Camino and sharing the incredible background story of one brave woman’s calling from above to make a difference, as well as various success stories of some of the many children who grew up at MDC.

Born and raised in Cuba, Leonor Portela moved to Miami where her husband served as an American Air Force pilot. At the age of twenty-six, Leonor’s husband was called for duty to during the Bay of Pigs, but unfortunately, his plane was shot down and crashed in the ocean. Years later, after hearing about the devastating 1976 earthquake in Guatemala, Leonor was moved to action and decided to assist in volunteer efforts abroad. She traveled to Guatemala to offer her assistance, and was shocked at the country’s destruction and the conditions that the children were living in. After returning to America, it took a few years before Leonor was able to find the financial help and support needed to return to Guatemala and follow through with a calling from above.

In 1986, Leonor sold her home and moved to Guatemala with $2,700 raised by her prayer group—where she opened a Home for children—currently known as Misioneros Del Camino. Leonor, also known as Mami Leo, started the Home with three children, and worked tirelessly to collect donations to bring in more children. One of the first children was a two-year year old girl with tuberculosis who weighed only 12 pounds. Doctors swore that she would have no more than two weeks to live, but she is currently living in the United States with a masters in social work. Another child taken in by Mami Leo had been dipped in scalding water by his parents, and had undergone other atrocious treatments by them as well. Mami Leo carried him in her arms for days, and during that time, he did not move or utter a sound. As she put him to bed on the fourth night of continuously caring for him and holding him, he broke his silence and asked, “Por que me quieres?” which translates to “Why do you love me?” He is currently attending law school and returns to the Home to help out whenever he can.

There are so many children living on the streets in Guatemala—many of whom are suffering from malnutrition and hunger. Mami Leo once exclaimed, “It’s not only saving a child, giving them food and shelter; anybody can do that. But to give love, to make them citizens that are proud of themselves and not ashamed of where they come from, and become good Christians, I think that’s the job.” Throughout the years, Mami Leo has saved, cared for, and provided educational, nutritional, and medical support for thousands of children.

In honor of the work Mami Leo has done, in continuing her legacy, and to help provide a bright future to the current generation of children at Misioneros Del Camino, I am running in this week’s Miami Marathon. If you would like to help contribute to this incredible cause so that we can help fulfill Mami Leo’s mission, please feel free to click on the below link. And if you would like to learn more about Misioneros Del Camino, please feel free to clink on the bottom link.

https://www.gofundme.com/5y82yn78
www.misionerosdelcamino.org 

IMG_8475.JPG

Enjoying Lisbon, Portugal: Part 3

After spotting the Igreja Santa Luzia, my sister and I continued walking through the Alfama district, until we came across the final destination of our walking tour—Castelo São Jorge.

“This castle was built by the Moors in the mid-11th century as a last defensive stronghold for the elite who resided on the citadel: the Moorish governor whose palace was nearby and the elite city administrators” (http://castelodesaojorge.pt). The castle was modified in the 13th century, and housed the first king of Portugal as well as many other members of the royal class.

In the late 1500’s, the castle served a military purpose, but renovation work had to commence after Lisbon experienced an earthquake in 1755 (http://castelodesaojorge.pt). As you can see in some of the pictures below, the castle offers beautiful panoramic views of both Lisbon and the Tagus River.

Enjoying Lisbon, Portugal: Part 2

After we left the Sé de Lisboa, we continued our journey until we reached the Miradouro de Santa Luzia. This lookout point is said to be the nicest in the Alfama area. From here, you can see traditional styled houses, the Tagus River, and the Igreja Santa Luzia. The views were truly breathtaking, and wherever you looked, there was something incredible to see.

Regarding the Igreja Santa Luzia, “The origins of this Church date back to the first years of Portuguese nationality, built in the 12th century, during the reign of the first Portuguese king, D. Afonso Henriques, by the knights of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and dedicated to São Brás, with defensive features as it was situated next to the town walls, on the eastern side of the town.

The present building, built over the previous temple, dates from the 18th century, with many alterations after the big destruction caused by the big 1755 earthquake and tsunami that destroyed a huge part of Lisboa.

The temple is characterized by its Latin cross plan and one-only nave, distributed by the main chapel, the transept and the nave, ten sepulchres in shape of gravestone and funerary monuments, classified as National Monument.

Also quite interesting are the two glazed tile panels signed in the historical Viúva Lamego ceramics factory, representing Lisboa with scenes of the conquest from the Moors in 1147and another one illustrating the Comércio Square before the big 1755 earthquake that forever changed the face of Lisboa” (www.getportugal.com).

 

Day 2 In Antigua, Guatemala

Our first morning in Antigua was spent at El Convento de las Capuchinas, the largest covenant in Antigua built solely by Capuchin nuns in the 1700’s. Unfortunately, after some destruction caused by an earthquake, the covenant was abandoned, but restored in the mid-1900’s for the pubic to see.

From there, we walked over to the Catedral de Santiago, which has ruins dating back to the 1500’s. Although the cathedral was destroyed twice by two different earthquakes, the ruins were still beautiful and it was a great sight to see with an abundance of history behind it.

Following our morning excursions, we took some time to walk around the city and explore a local market. While doing so, we came across a nice, small restaurant to have lunch at before beginning our afternoon explorations which will be continued in an upcoming post.

Snapshot Challenge Saturday: Pray for Nepal

It seems unfair to have a Snapshot Challenge today when such a devastating tragedy has taken place in Nepal, which is known to be one of the world’s poorest country earlier this morning. Due to the fact that thousands of lives have been lost in the wake of this awful earthquake and many people are still missing, please take a minute to pray for those who have been affected. It is in such a time of need that a helping hand can make all the difference. If you are able to donate to relief efforts or if you are able to spread the word, please do so because we must come together now more than ever to help those in need.

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=1888#.VTw1TUvd5g0

nepal

Pray For Nepal

Day 1 In San Juan, Costa Rica

Two years ago, my family and I traveled to Costa Rica for a few days on a group trip. I have been meaning to post about our experience ever since, so here it finally goes! We flew into San Juan, Costa Rica on Sunday morning and had the afternoon to ourselves before the trip officially began the following morning. My brother, sister, mother, and I walked around the city and had lunch at a local restaurant called Nuestra Tierra, which translates to “Our land.” I ordered chicken, salsa, black beans, plantains, and tortillas, and surely wasn’t disappointed! For dessert, we had rice pudding also known as arroz con leche, along with coffee made from a chorreador.

The chorreador is a coffee making device used in Costa Rica in which hot water is poured into a cloth fiber containing coffee grounds. The coffee then seeps into the cup placed below the cloth (as pictured below). This unique method of making coffee definitely interested us tourists, and it was as delicious as we imagined it would be.

Following lunch, we continued to walk around the city until it was time to return to the hotel for dinner. We had black bean soup, homemade chips, and fish before heading to sleep for the evening. My brother and I slept in one room and my sister and mother shared another room across the hall from us.

The two of us both woke up in the middle of the night to a loud continuous banging sound in the room next door. We both assumed that it was just a couple being loud and intimate with one another, so we tried to ignore the sounds until we fell back asleep. It wasn’t until the following morning that we found out there was a minor earthquake overnight, and the loud sounds were unoccupied beds moving back and forth!