The last letter from Paraguay

I’m still in Paraguay. Erin and Amy went back home last week.  I stayed one more week in my Paraguay home enjoying quality time with the family. Erin asked me to write something about PBL in Paraguay, and I kept saying “I love seeing it through your eyes”, and it was true, because Paraguay is ALSO my world.

I kept thinking that nothing that happened in Paraguay was “new” for me.  But today we had to ship the last 15 bikes to Carmelo Peralta.  We won’t be able to deliver them in person as it’s very isolated and due to the rainy season you can’t plan anything. I forgot what a storm was!  We had some logistics things to solve and I was overwhelmed.  Then, I have to admit, this morning I was overwhelmed by a family health issue and I send a non-polite text to Erin.

Two hours later, when I read Erin’s reply, I couldn’t stop the tears.  I knew she was able to read me.  She knew something wasn’t right and she just said, “We did the best we could.  Just take care of your mom. We will learn for the future.”

When I read Erin’s reply, I already had a solution for the problem, but what amazed me, was her support. I know how much she works for PBL, how much time and effort she puts in the project, and she just said, “Okay, we’ll do better.” I think she also knew I was going to come with a solution anyway.

When we went to Puerto Casado, she was miserable.  She was not the happy, full-of-life Erin that I know.  I was worried, but once we start delivering the bikes she was her normal self.  When we needed to fix mechanical stuff she was working miracles as usual, not even remembering she was in pain.

So it’s not true that nothing was “new” for me.  I saw Erin in a world that wasn’t her own. I saw love, passion, commitment and kindness in action for the greater cause that she believes and lives for. For more than half of my life I have been dedicated to leadership and voluntarism. Seeing a person, who decided a year ago that she needed to have a bigger purpose than herself in life, start a charity that delivered bikes to 40 women in Paraguay and created a whole community around- well, that’s amazing and humbling.

She doesn’t speak Spanish nor understand Guaraní, but she could connect with the women and the kids through love and laughter. I loved to see her laugh with the women because I knew they had no idea what the other was saying and it didn’t matter.

I learned a lot in this first project.  When I work with Doctors without Borders, I just need to ask for things and I have a team of logisticians to make it happen and an Admin-Fin team to give me the staff I need.  Here we needed to do everything.  Let’s just say that for my next mission I will hug my Logistician and tell her or him, thank you!! For the new mission and all my previous missions!

Most important I learned that I have a partner who truly lives by her passion and the connection we can make is so much bigger and so much more personal than the ones that I make working in another organization. I will continue working with MSF, because as Jim will say, being a doctor is in my DNA, and being a humanitarian doctor is the type of medicine that I love, one when I truly believe I’m doing something. But “working” with PBL has been eye opening.   The possibility to improve the quality of life for people as the little organization that we are, created by people who just believe they can change realities, is amazing. You don’t need to be big to make a change - you just need to want to do something!!

“The people who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world are the ones who do”

We believed and we’re doing it.  And yes, we are more than crazy in love with Life, and we want to keep doing our part to make the world a better place to live and we want to keep bringing worlds together!

We’re going to Rwanda in 2016.  I can’t wait to meet the fellow crazy-in-love-with-life people that will join us in our next amazing journey!

Love,

Belen