Today, was our first day in the community of Pumamarca and I have to say that I was very emotional the entire day. As soon as I stepped out of the car I was immediately transported to my humble beginnings back in my small town of Ixtlahuacan Del Rio, Jalisco.
The houses build from adobe bricks just like mine, the smell of “tierra mojada” (that unique smell that soil gives off after it rains). The children running around, playing in the school playground, the women collecting wood for cooking, and the men tending the fields. In a single day, in just a few hours I was reminded of my upbringing in Mexico. I remember going door to door selling lemons and peaches from our trees, walking to school with my brand new huaraches and catching beetles tying them with a piece of string and watching them fly for hours.
Paulino the community President gave us a tour of the community. As we made our way through town I was able to speak with Evangelina one of the seven community leaders. She told me about the struggles the community has had to endured for quite a long time now. The lack of a strong education system, the inability to get any health care treatment due to a lack of financial resources, and the need for irrigation systems that would enable them to grow crops during the dry seasons, just to mention a few. More recently the farmers within the community have lost up to eighty percent of their crops to plant pathogens. Pumamarca at one point was the number one flower producer for the festivals in Cusco but over the years the soil quality has diminished making the flowers more prone to pest infections.
There is a lot of things that need to get done. Poverty is high within the community but their spirit, hard work and dreams for a better life have inspired me to do everything in my control to help them out. As Dr. Muhammad Yunus once said “changes are products of intensive efforts.” I am determined to give my very best.
Dream Big. Fight Harder. Enjoy Life.