Last week was my last (official) day at Vida, and I have been missing them dearly ever since I left. My last day was perfect and I would like to tell you about it.
I am always delighted to come in to Vida and see Shari and her little brother there (they aren't always able to make the trek) and I was happy that I would be able to say goodbye to her. There is something so bright and magical about this little soul that drew me in from day 1. About 30 minutes in she bumped her head pretty hard and rather than me stick around the classroom as I usually did, I scooped her up in my arms and sat with her until the tears subsided. Even though I knew her head hurt, I was content to just sit there with her on my lap and I started to sing her the lullaby that my mom sang to me when I wasn't feeling well. I found it very fitting to sing Que Sera Sera (Doris Day) and sure enough she settled. We talked about siblings and boyfriends (myself, no, but there was a very tall and cute boy she would like to be her boyfriend) and she asked where I was from. She asked if there would be any more gringos coming (white people) and I told her I hoped so.
We made our way over to the swing and as I slowly pushed her she leaned back, closed her eyes and smiled up at the sky. I will never forget that moment. Partially because it was so perfect and also because I have always done that same thing. I smiled from the bottom of my toes.
Oliver then asked me if I'd like to accompany him to the market to grab the day's lunch food, and while peeling away from Shari was hard I've always loved my conversations with Oliver. He speaks with such passion and love and sincerity that you know that he loves what he does more than anything. On our walk there we noticed two children pulling at someone.
It was one of the kid's mothers. She was drunk, past the point of being able to open her eyes or stand and her child was trying to get her home. It couldn't have been later than 3 pm. Slowly the kids pulled her up but she soon collapsed with her underwear around her ankles. The pain in that boy's eyes ran so deep, he should have been coming to Vida but instead he was forced to make sure his mother didn't find her end in the streets.
It's these sights that pull you back down to reality and force you to see how much work needs to be done. But it can be done and slowly but surely, Oliver, Daniel and Marcos are changing the lives of the children in Dueñas. We soldier on.
When we get back to Vida, Oliver and I make the kids sandwiches and I find myself quieting. I am sad to leave and it is getting nearer. After lunch I notice the kids huddling outside and Oliver asks if I'm ready. I'm not. They yell my name and I'm greeted by a giant farewell sign with drawings and messages from all the kids. They thank me for my love and patience but inside I want to cry and only hope that I have left solely a positive impact on Vida, for they have changed me. Each one of them comes up to give me a hug and kiss goodbye and many of them have made additional cards. They are beautiful and perfect and I am full of pure love.
The money that we all raised, you and I, is going to pay for the salaries of the teachers and helping staff. Many have not been paid in awhile, and they have lost some amazing teachers as a result. The teachers are so important here, with their love and patience and generosity and I knew that they couldn't lose another.
Thank you, Marcos, Daniel, Oliver, for showing me what pure love looks like and how to be a champion for children.