Stories that inspire us
This pandemic changed our lives in many ways. For me personally it gave me the joy and opportunity to live a unique and unforgettable experience.
My name is Leticia Romero and since 2019 I am responsible for the GRACIAS FOUNDATION.
Something that seemed unthinkable in the context of the world and the country, could be carried out, with great faith and effort. In early March of this year, we had the opportunity to travel to the province of Chaco, to “La Peligrosa”, where since December 2019 and together with the Monte Adentro Civil Association, we are building cisterns so that several families in this community have access to safe water.
We arrived in Chaco on a very hot day together with the founder of Gracias, Manuel Romero, and traveled to Boquerón, in the Tres Isletas district. There, we settled in the community center of that town, where we were very kindly received by part of the Monte Adentro team, especially “La Juli” who with her smile and commitment to the cause made these days perfect.
Although it seemed like 10 days, we stayed there for only four, working on the construction of three cisterns in Paraje La Peligrosa and visiting the families who already had the cisterns completed.
What can we say about the people we meet? Warmth and gratitude with a constant “THANK YOU AND A THOUSAND THANKS” could be breathed in those humble places. Of course, everyone’s situation changed from one minute to the next, with the new cistern just a meter away from their house, they no longer had to walk for miles in the blazing sun to fetch the water they needed.
One of our missions was to visit him. We knew that Cachi and Hernan, two locals, guided us there. The road was difficult. There were curves and counter curves and the rising earth made it difficult for us to see the road, but we followed his indications and after a while, thanks to Lolo’s son on a bicycle who guided us, we arrived.
They didn’t know we were coming and they didn’t know us either. Cachi was the one who introduced us. “They are Gracias’ boys,” he shouted. “For what!!!” He shouted for his wife and they went outside with their daughter and two-year-old granddaughter.
We introduced ourselves and after a while we were already sitting in a shady spot under the tent, with hot bread fresh from the clay oven and Lolo mate in hand. My eyes were darting all over the place, it was a constant nodding. I was extremely happy. I felt thirsty and asked if I could have a drink of water from the cistern. I took the lid off the cistern, lifted the tachito hanging with a rope to the bottom of the cistern and drew the richest and freshest water I had ever drunk in my life.
THE FLAGPOLE WITHOUT A FLAG
From the moment we entered the camp there was something that caught my attention. A flagpole, but without a flag. Strange thing. While the men were talking about the construction of the tinglado they did with the Gracias group in 2019, I took the opportunity to ask Cynthia about the Mast. He told me that they use it to bring up his cell phone, with a little bag on the rope. Leave it for a while to load the messages and then download it to see everything received
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU AND MORE THANK YOU
The unforgettable afternoon continued and between mate the word that was transmitted the most was THANK YOU. For providing them with something that should be normal? Another phrase we were told was “You fulfilled our dream, we didn’t ask for anything more, we already have everything we needed”.
There was no light in Lolo’s house either, but when the sun went down, I saw a little house nearby that he had. So I asked them why there was electricity there and they had no electricity. With a very natural answer he told me: “Because we have no way to pay”. The only way for them to pay for electricity was to sell cattle and with that money they could pay the electricity for several months, but they did not have any, they either died or they were stolen, and the horses were unsaleable since they were their only means of transportation together with bicycles that got flat tires all the time and they could not fix them.
The heat began to ease, but the gnats began to attack us. We didn’t care about anything, we didn’t want to dismantle that round of mate and hot bread that he kept taking out of the oven. At one point, Lolo invited us to visit his vegetable garden. It was the best vegetable garden I had ever seen in my life. kms and kms of crops. It had everything! That’s what they fed on, but there was a problem: drought. Watching the food dry made you want to cry.
Anyway, they gave us huge pumpkins, sweet potatoes and potatoes. If it had been up to them, we would have taken the whole orchard. what a way to give and give and give. They give usFood, affection, pure teaching, joy, attitude, hope, simplicity, and lots and lots of love.
The moment came when, unfortunately because of the darkness, we had to leave. We got in the car. Cachi is a native of that place so these adventures are commonplace. Manuel driving, me next to him. The three of us were speechless. Not a fly was flying. Me with the two pumpkins in my hand.
Inside, flashes of that hour and a half in “La Casa de Lolo” began to appear. Mast, barefoot girl, hot bread, water from the cistern, heat, orchard, horses, earth that flew and happy faces of all. It looked like a party.
My tears would stop and then come again. Tears of happiness for what we have experienced, of astonishment and indignation, of surprise, of gratitude. “LO DE LOLO” I will carry it in my heart forever and I promised them I would come back, so I will be there this year, savoring mate, hot bread and LOTS OF LOVE.
Director Fundacion Gracias
Buenos Aires, August 2021