Friday Afternoon in Tijuana
This is the third in a blog series, chronicling the adventures of the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign in San Diego between Thursday, February 25th and Sunday, February 28th. This blog is written by Kathy Faller, who travels to Tijuana weekly, supporting families and communities with donations; providing hope for better lives. On Friday, February 26th, she led a group that included Adam Gerhardstein, Campaign Manager of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign.
I know that when I take people to see Mexico, the Mexico that I see, it is a transformational experience. It’s not easy though. I have spent a lot of time thinking about how best to convey this experience for others, paint a rosy picture, not show them some areas, or support their stereotypes. Lots of paths that can be taken toward understanding. Over the past 5 years, I have seen many different reactions and emotions; sadness, anger, judgement, joy to name a few. My current approach is to just hold a space of compassion for everyone involved. This is how I embarked on the day with Adam, Dick, Dan, Mar and Michanne squeezing into my AWD Toyota. Curious what this adventure will bring…….
We traveled to Colonia Cumbres, where I have built 9 homes for families that truly needed good homes but were too poor to afford them. I love the name of the home program, Casas de Luz, having windows in each of these homes brings light into what was previously cave like conditions.
We go to Lulu’s bright blue home with her three large windows and see Daniel, 3 years old, smiling. When I first met him he suffered from asthma caused by the mold in their home, he never smiled. Lulu’s family has a hard life but her home is always neat; she takes great pride in owning it. It’s nice to know that I played a part in providing her some contentment.
In January of 2009, I was asked if I was interested in supporting Colonia Carretas in helping them become a community. Over the past year I have delivered weekly donations, raised funds for a new community center, and heard their struggles in community development. There are currently 30 families that are part of this squatter’s canyon of homes.
We drive up to the community a couple of hours late and there are 25 people waiting for us. There is excitement, to receive “Standing on the Side of Love” pins, and caution, who are these people with me.
We are on the lot that we hope to have become the new community center. The community has cleared the land by hand, forming a human chain to move the rocks. They have been working hard in the hope of having a better life. They see us as providing some hope for the future. I feel a big responsibility when I hear them talk about how hard their lives are and what they need. While they would love new homes, we are focusing on building a community center and entrepreneur development. Some of the women have made things to show us. There are scarves, tortilla holders, bags; all made from remnants brought down from the US. Adam purchased the perfect rainbow scarf to wear for his sermon on Sunday. I was touched deeply when they asked him to pray for them and their families. I felt such joy seeing Mar doing Cat’s cradle and Adam doing magic tricks with the kids.
It brings me such joy visiting my friends in the Colonias. This is my spiritual practice that awakens me to what’s really important and nourishes me with each visit. I will continue facilitating the alchemy of castoffs becoming gold across the border.