It’s 5 am in Villeta, this skin and bones 9 year-old-girl is waking up to go gather lemons from a tree in her yard. She’s been doing that for a while now, it’s the way to help her family. Her mom sells goods around town and she goes around selling lemons with her.
That morning was different though, these friends from the States were coming! She didn’t know much about them, but the volunteers from Fundacion Maria Auxiliadora applied on their behalf to “win” a bike and they were chosen!
A bike was the family’s dream for a while, but they just couldn’t afford it!
She’s part of a family of 6. The mom and 5 kids, the dad died and she’s the oldest of the siblings. She must have taken over the responsibility of helping mom right away; you could see it in her eyes.
She wouldn’t speak much, nor would the mom, until somebody told them you can speak in Guarani, Belen understands Guarani and she will translate! The mom started talking and I, Belen, couldn’t hold the tears. Translating and crying at the same time is not easy!
I can’t remember her name, there were so many emotions that day, but I will always remember her eyes and what I saw in them. A soul with determination, a soul that just needs opportunities to give herself and her family a better future.
The mom told us about the lemons at 5 a.m. Somewhere on her way to meet the Americans, some regular clients found the young girl; they wanted lemons for their morning Terere. She didn’t know what to do; she wanted to show her Americans friends how she supported her family! Mom grabs her shoulder and said, “you can sell them, sweetheart, I’m sure the “yanquis” know what lemons look like, they must have them at home!”
When I met her, she could barely look at me. When the mom told us the story I just laughed and cried at the same time, as well as the rest of the team!
She jumped on the family bike right away. The mom was the beneficiary but it will benefit the whole family. I had a helmet that I donated myself, I grabbed it and said, “I want to give you this one, it was mine and I want it to be yours.”
My dad told her that it was a magic helmet. “Belen is really smart and now you’re wearing her helmet, it means you will be super smart too, you can be a doctor or a nurse if you want to.” She smiled and made sure her helmet was in the right position and jumped on her bike carrying her little sister already. And I just knew, she would be one of my reasons, one of my “Why”.
It’s not just the bike, it’s the lemons, and the magic helmets and the shared smiles. No matter how hard it can get, or how much “life” happens in 2017, we will be spreading the love and we will be giving opportunities to others.
Wishing all our friends and bike lovers an awesome year!
From my heart to yours,