Thursday, March 1, 2012

Una Amiga

I have a friend!  Wow, that sounds a little pitiful, doesn’t it?  But, I have a friend, and it’s a happy thing! 

A few weeks back when I had the women do the “Heart” activity, writing difficult things in their lives, (the one where some of the older women kind of ‘fussed me out’), only one woman really seemed to get anything out of it.  
In fact, Angela stayed after, asking if I’d like to hear what she’d written.  That was the beginning, really, of our friendship. 
Angela is 38, and lives in El Callejon with her husband and three children (ages 10, 4 and 3).  She was raised near the community, and still has family in the area. 

When she was younger, she left for several years, trying to go to university in bigger cities.  She studied Teaching for a while but dropped out and began working.  She came back after a relationship ended and she lost her job. 

Angela seems to get along with the other women, although I’ve noticed some distance when the Adult Women’s group meets. 
Perhaps because she left, she doesn’t quite fit in anymore.  Maybe it’s because she’s had some further education.  Or, her desire that her children to do better, even if it means they leave El Callejon.  I’m not sure. 
I’ve pretty much always been drawn to ‘outsiders’.  To people who are different from the crowd.  Maybe it’s because I’ve spent most of my life a bit on the outside. 

Raised in Canada with American parents, a Canadian going to college in the US during the rah-rah 80’s, a white Yankee in African American and Hispanic processing plants in the South, and now una Americana living in the DR.

Angela and her daughter Angelina
Yesterday afternoon Angela came to the Site, and the two of us sat and talked for more than an hour, while her daughter, Angelina, colored.  It felt so good to be not constantly trying to think of topics of conversation.  We just talked.  Of course, at times I couldn’t understand what she was saying, but that’s okay, too!   
Angela asked me if I like living here, like what I do.  I have to say, I was surprised.  It was the first time anyone in El Callejon has asked me about my life, my feelings.  It was a gift to be able to share a bit about my struggles with getting used to things here.  To be myself. 

For me, that’s when a friendship really takes root.  When the conversation moves past surface pleasantries and goes deeper. 
I hadn’t realized how much I missed those connections.  Sure, I’ve got them with Daisy and other SI staff, and with outreach participants, too.  But, in the day to day work with the women of El Callejon, I was missing that. 
I pray this friendship will be a beginning.  That Angela and I can continue finding ways around language and culture barriers to connect.  And, that I’ll be able to connect with others in more significant ways, too. 
I have a friend.  Cool, eh? 

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