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Seeing Someone Through a New Lens

Seeing My Mother for the First Time

Monday in Guatemala is for meeting the sponsored children and their families.  There is excitement and nervousness.  Less than 10 % of the Unbound sponsors actually make it to see their sponsored children or families.  This is my mother's third trip and our arms are loaded with gifts to meet 3 of the 4 children she and my step-father sponsor and their families.

The gym is filled with tables on one end and Guatemalan families fill them, babies and grandparents, parents and siblings, all journeyed with their children who are sponsored to greet the people who send the money each month that allows for the family to meet basic needs, apply for assistance to get off dirt floors and into homes made of cement bricks, not tin.

That awkward moment of first greetings

The interpreters are there as I brush off my 7 years of high school and college Spanish.  My mother goes to each of the families with confidence and smiles as she hugs them and hands them her gifts, clothes, a backpack, soccer balls and other items.  She uses her interpreters to greet and hug the families.  It is through this new lens that I see her, breaking the barriers of language and relying on the common languages of smiles, hugs, and hand gestures to communicate.  I bring out my snacks and games and find a place on the table, next to a little girl, Juana, Edgar's sister.  She is open to playing Spot It and learning the pictures in English while she teaches me the images in Spanish. Bubbles also bridge the barriers and I disperse our leftover Hot Pink bubbles throughout our table.  

A smile from my momma

Later my mom joins in silly games, dances, and leads the parade of families throughout the Unbound yard to visit chickens and pigs and turkeys.  She uses a variety of spanglish words, gestures and interpreters to create ease and warmth between their family and us; as well as one another, three families from different regions, different languages between themselves also as we need two interpreters to support our families' languages.  During the day, she completely immerses herself with the families.  She does not worry how we are doing, my daughter and I, she does not check in with us, make sure we are having fun or doing is so refreshing to see your mother own it.  To focus on what matters, this moment in time with these families.  And, my daughter and I are in fact, doing well.  

Edgar, Rocael and Jeronimo with their families

It forces Maya and I to make it on our own with the kids as well.  Games and bubbles.  

Beautiful Juana, Edgar's sister

Not only are we able to fill the day with laughter and connections, it goes fast.  And, good-byes are heavy.  Will we see them again?  Jeronimo is graduating from the program, a man with a son, who he chases around the gym throughout the day.  He and his wife perform a beautiful and intimate folkloric dance on the stage as we close out the day.  

Jeronimo and his wife and son, David

And Edgar, with his older sister whom my mom sponsored at one time, now she will be married in November.  And, then there is sweet Juana, Edgar's younger sister,  shy and reserved and observant. The entire family benefits from one child being sponsored.  Being sponsored means staying in school, putting food on the table, managing other needs of the family, like a juicer for a mother to make money for the family in a road-side stand.  

Edgar, Juana and Edwina

And Rocael, 17 and dreams to be a doctor.  Dreams know no boundaries when sponsorship supports hope.  

Maya with Rocael

I always knew my mom was kind, compassionate, outgoing and full of love.  After today, this new lens, I see my mother as brave and worldly, risk-taking and open.  The way she connects with each of the families, regardless of language barriers.  The way she tends to the families, as they are the focus of the day, some leaving their homes at 2:00 am to travel to us.  

You become used to the dynamics of the people in your life.  The everyday way you see one another.  I now see a whole new level of beauty in this woman, my mother.

Christie Gause-Bemis, MSW, LCSW, co-founder of Hot Pink YOUniversity


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