Thanks to gifts from Bridging Cultures, the group of women who have received reimbursable funds for small businesses had a Christmas celebration. A small group from FEDICE (Hugo, Luis, Sebastian, Marilyn and Glenn) arrived in the afternoon as planned for the regular monthly meeting with the women’s group. Usually this meeting includes some training at these meetings, but for December it was all about “Party!”. Cheese squares, pieces of hot dog, chips, soft drinks, and brown sugar coated peanuts were spread on platters across two tables spread with a plastic cover.
First, a few games were played. Musical chairs were one. Some of the women got really competitive, yanking chairs away from each other when the music stopped.
Another was “which pair of persons can hold the tomato between their heads the longest”. Laughter was present, but subdued, except during the games.
Food was passed out and a bag of treats was given to each participant. The children and youth of the area played outside, shouting and rollicking on the playground of their school where the women’s group meets. When the FEDICE group first arrived, the children lined up to receive gifts. But, this trip was not for them. It was for the women of the community.
Pusir is isolated, across the river from the highway. There is a 5 kilometer dirt road and a pedestrian bridge that connects them to two different places along the highway. There is no bus service to Pusir and few residents own cars. There is no industry, very few shops, and few jobs except farm related work. The houses are small; some are painted. The surrounding valley and hills are green with different planted crops. The yards of the houses are dirt. Thanks to Bridging Cultures, there are some plants in the town square and different people in the community have pledged to give them water in exchange for new sneakers.
FEDICE and Bridging Cultures are about bringing hope and justice to communities. One cannot arrive, spread hope, and leave in a few visits with the result being a changed community. I told Glenn, my husband, that it is depressing here. He gently reminded me that that is why FEDICE and Bridging Cultures are here. A change in attitude takes time. Better income and jobs take time. Hope for the children of the future takes time.
Some of the women brought different fruits and vegetables from their farm patches. These were thank you/Christmas gifts to us. It was a pleasure to receive them.
With continued activity by both FEDICE and Bridging Cultures, there is a better chance that that time has come. Maybe, just maybe, we all will make a difference for this beautiful, but poor place. A poor community is one thing, but to lack spirit, a proud culture, and little hope is surely a very sad place. Thanks for your prayers for Pusir, FEDICE, and Bridging Cultures that a time for positive change will come.