(2015, $315, Chontal) In December 2015, I was invited by Fr Bill Lohan, the pastor of St Lucy's Parish in Methuen, MA, to share a public reflection on St Lucy. Afterwards, the people who came took up a collection that amounted to $315 to support the mission. After arriving in Chontal, I visited with Don Segundo Chiluisa, a sixty-something-year-old widow with 4 children who struggles to find work, and who is still recovering from the complete loss of his little wooden house in a fire in 2014. He had received some funding from the donations we put together for those most affected by the landslides of Mother's Day 2014. As there is no insurance or government assistance, he was able to buy the cinder blocks he needed to start to rebuild a home, with the help of his young daughters. The house remains unfinished. He continues to plant a number of different things in the small property he has, including beans and cocoa and aloe, hoping to make some income. But being older, he can't work like he used to.
I donated the money directly to him, and he told me that used it to pay off the debt on his refrigerator. His three daughters, aged 13 to 16, will be going off to a nearby farm to work during the school vacation. There are a number of families who are just eking out an existence, and this donation is a small but important step in opening bridges.