Upon our arrival at the Shelter we were met by Alejandro Laureano, the Exchange Program Coordinator for Rancho Feliz, who welcomed us all and showed us to our dormitory quarters.
arrived and suggested that the weather would not be conducive to our two "manual labor" projects that had been planned, painting of an elementary school and pouring a concrete floor in a local home.
With those plans on hold, it was decided to go ahead and distribute the food bagged the preceding evening, so soon we were engaged in the old 'fire bucket brigade', loading all the bags into the back of a pickup truck and the school bus, assisted by several high school students: seems Alejandro
also teaches at the high school and the extra hands were his
students who wanted to help.
Once the two vehicles were loaded they were boarded and headed out.
On this trip Alejandro
directed the bus to individual houses and the clothing was distributed directly to families.
Sunday dawned clear and bright, foretelling a warm day, and over breakfast Alejandro
offered that the weather was right to tackle our two labor-intensive tasks… so no rest on this 7ty day.
4 of our group accompanied Alejandro
into an area of the city known as the 'Ladrillo District', a dusty, hard-scrabble settlement of homes on the edge of the city where most of the homes were made from bricks, ladrillos, or varied combinations of block, adobe and brick.
Our job was to pour a floor in a house recently purchased by a woman who 4 years earlier had left her
three daughter, then 9, 7 and 3, at the La Divina Shelter, and an infant son with relatives, to work in the US to make money to support them and someday to return for them.
had recently returned to Mexico and procured a lot and friends were helping her
build a home.
even tried his
hand, at one point yelling out "QUIETE": even in the dark you could see the twinkle in the eyes of several of the girls as they not only kept singing… but began to clap, until the whole group was singing and clapping in unison, even getting Lupe hooked and singing along.
As we sat together in the meeting hall for the last time… this trip… having breakfast and coffee prior to our departure, Alejandro
was asked how he
would 'rate' our group.
said we were productive, and funny: not funny as in 'odd', but in the sense of being fun loving.
He then laughingly said certainly we were the first of the volunteers he'd had come to La Divina who had danced in the square.
In fact, he
noted we were the first that had actually wanted to join in with the townspeople and interact directly… commenting other groups were more cautious… and then he
thanked us for "seeing my people as they really are.
Our collective response was that the thanks went from us to him, for his
hospitality and having given us all the chance to share of our time and to look inside our own hearts.
With those thoughts in mind we finished our breakfast and clean up, left the remaining food stuffs and loaded up our vehicles, then bid adios to Alejandro
and the Shelter.