A year ago my sister asked for help, with a project she was working on, I would never thought at that time the one that was really going to be helped was myself! (Probably my sister Knew and that’s why she wanted me on board!)
I started working with PBL in a moment where I felt my life was falling apart and I was broken into pieces. I went to visit the beneficiaries, and seeing other realities helped me recharge with so much energy, I needed that energy to leave the pain behind! I saw myself becoming a fulfilled woman without the need of an external factor or a person to be happy! I was empowered by the project and I then I was able to empower other women!
On Valentine’s Weekend (What a cliché!! Best Valentine day EVER!!) Ana Lucia and me, both Paraguayan PBL ambassadors, in partnership with Fundacion Maria Auxiliadora, were finally able to go to Carmelo Peralta! In December we shipped the bikes by boat, but due to heavy rains and other logistics constraints we couldn’t deliver the bikes personally. In PBL is all about Love, Community and Connection!!
In January, I was in the States, and Belen and I went to a 5th Grade Class. I always remember the kids asking, Is Paraguay a 3er World Country?? I thought about them during this whole trip!!!
Carmelo Peralta is up North the Paraguayan River, in the border with Brazil. The safest way to go there by road, is traveling 470 Km in Paraguayan roads, not all paved! We got stuck 3 times! The rear wheels were totally buried, we had to wait until a truck was going by so they could help us, and that was 3 times!! Once we had to wait for an hour under the burning sun!! We finally made it to the Brazilian border and from there we still had 185 km on Brazilian roads (Paved!!) Then you load the car on a ferry and cross the River back to Paraguay. The ferry is a tiny boat where you pray for 45 min until you safely make it to the other side!
The sun was so welcoming, a 110 F!!! There is no potable water system; they depend on rain water that they try to keep in water tanks. The soil is so dry that it split into pieces, it barely rains but when it rains a little more than usual it floods, and they end up even more isolated!
We went to visit some of the beneficiary’s houses, they were all so happy to see us! The hug of Francisca made me forget the 12 hours of traveling and made it all so worthy again!! Francisca looks a lot older than what she really is, she’d had a rough life and I could hear firsthand their stories of love and resilience!
I saw a big happy smile in every face, and those smiles will stay forever in my heart and my mind, I’m more than ever sure, that with little things we can make big changes! Most of the women, were adults, I’m 27-year-old, and I was impressed by the strength these women have! Their breadwinners, most of them walk around offering the products from their garden, now they will do it on a bike! They will be able to go longer distances, in less time, their revenues will increase and they will be able to be home earlier!
Let’s keep empowering, let’s keep believing in a better world, let’s keep following our dreams even when we feel we touched rock bottom, there is only a way up from there, and we become stronger. I’m convinced that I was empowered by empowering others! I thought I was helping but these amazing women where the ones helping me!!! Whatever you give to the world, it will give back to you in the most amazing ways!!
Lupe Ramirez Tellez