Today was our last full day in Chacraseca. The first half of the day was very full. After breakfast, we first visited Ileana. She shared her story with us — that several years ago she lost her young son, who had been born with a variety of health issues. After his death, she experienced extreme depression. With the encouragement of a friend, she began making jewelry to sell to groups that come through Chacraseca. This creative work helped to pull her out of depression and begin living again.
Ileana’s dream was to have a house of her own. As she earned money with her jewelry, she began saving and purchasing supplies as she could. Over the course of the years, she has built and decorated one of the loveliest homes in Chacraseca. Her hard work, creativity, and strength are truly inspiring.
When we finished visiting with Ileana, we began the long trek to Miramar — the farthest sector of Chacraseca. It takes an hour on very rough roads to reach Miramar from our home base of Casa de Paz. When we arrived, we met Doña Fatima, who is the head of the women’s microcredit bank in her sector. She introduced us to two women who have received micro loans from this program. They have used the money to purchase cattle, and either make money by selling the milk to a distributor from Lèon, or use the milk to make a variety of foods for their families.
The women who have benefitted from micro credit are deeply grateful for the opportunity. These small loans of $200-$300 dollars help them to begin achieving more for their families, while also building self-confidence. It was a joy to share in their hopes, joys, and dreams, and also humbling to share in their struggles and sorrows (one woman’s son died only 10 days ago, so her grief was very fresh).
This afternoon we had down time to clean up (Miramar isVERY dusty), rest, and begin packing. Then, before dinner, we met with Juan for some final debriefing and discussion about our time here. This included brainstorming ways to share this experience with people at home. After dinner, Juan Pablo (our fearless and faithful driver) shared some songs with us, including a song he has written for visiting groups from Just Hope. We gifted Juan and Juan Pablo (as well as our other translators) with FCC Smithville Christmas ornaments as a way of saying thank you for everything they have done for us this week.
It is hard to say goodbye to people you’ve come to think of as friends. Thankfully, we aren’t saying goodbye — we’re saying see you later to partners and friends in the struggle for justice and hope.