Operation Fresa

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Habitat For Humanity & Fresa Weddings

“Mujeres Moviendo Al Mundo!!!”

kristee with kids from the habitat for humanity buildIt is so incredibly easy to fall in love with Mexico. The beautiful weather and the beautiful landscape is surpassed only by the beauty of it’s People. Warm, caring, generous, trusting . . . and more than anything, these people love Family. I have always been treated like I belong here and wanted to do something to “Give Back” . . . I was introduced to Habitat for Humanity four years ago and knew that I had found an organization with whom I would be Honored to partner!

I’ll share a little story with you all . . .

In September 2010 I volunteered with the organization to do a build and traveled to the teeny city of San Martin Texmelucan in the state of Puebla, Mexico. There I worked with 7 of the most truly inspiring and incredible Women I have ever met on a project called “Mujeres Movieno al Mundo” OR “Women Moving The World”. This campaign aims to address one of the most vulnerable sectors of Mexico’s society: Poor women, heads of household and their families living in vulnerable conditions of marginalization and poverty.

For years before our arrival, these seven women (Gloria, Betti, Eliday, Mama Tona, Laura, August & Maria) worked to raise the money to buy land. Habitat for Humanity Mexico learned of them and selected them to receive funds of 50,000 Pesos (5,000 US Dollars) to construct seven homes for themselves and their families. One by One, these Women Built Each Others Homes by HAND.

I arrived when a roof was being poured for a woman named Eliday, her mother and her two children. This marked the completion of the very first home! A great celebration followed – it was short lived – I was told that “There was work to be done tomorrow” and “We will celebrate in January” . . . when all of the women had a place to call Home.

They worked. I worked. We all worked – like I had never worked before – Sunup to Sundown. We stopped to enjoy lunch as a group together – Sharing stories, playing with the children, and laughing . . . There was A LOT of laughter! I was completely included despite being quite “Spanish challenged” at the time . . . It was incredible how fast I learned the language from these patient women . . . And how deeply connected we became by powers others than words.

I witnessed Women of Amazing Strength, lifting 40 lb. wheelbarrows full of cement to fill 40 of the hand dug 5×5 holes that would house the wire supports for the homes. It is hard to picture without being there. The ruggedness of the materials and the assembly line that was used to put everything together bit by tiny bit – but believe me, it was incredible. And – it was done while laughing, telling jokes, and smiling . . . Truly Smiling . . . Everyone being Over the Moon thinking about turning the keys to their front doors!

I learned not only to build a house by hand in two weeks but learned an amazing amount about the Life these Women and their Families lead – and an amazing amount about LIFE from them.

The children were happier than I’ve known in my day and grateful for the opportunity they had to go to school. They would run home at noon in their shoes that were two sizes two small and in their third and fourth generation clothing, all the while singing and laughing. I taught them how to count to five in English, which they just loved. Now most kids here wouldn’t think of more than a “Thanks” – but these children were so appreciative that they pooled their hard earned allowances and sacrificed their candies and treats for the week to say “Gracias Gringa” and presented me with a little Pink Choo-Choo Train Keychain
I treasure that keychain.

habitat for humanity truckOn my final day there, we took a day off! Sunday, It turns out…Is for Family . . .And is be taken Very Seriously! We all packed into the fronts and backs of two beat up old pickup trucks; moms, kids, cousins, aunts…and Me…and we headed up to the mountains. We stopped in a little village along the way and they insisted I stay in the truck (as they all scurried into a cute little market to get the ingredients for the meal they were planning, which I knew nothing about). We arrived after a bumpy 40 minute ride on unpaved roads at a beautiful picnic area far away from civilization. Here all of the women proceeded to start a fire, and do what they Love…Cook up a FEAST fit for the queens we were!!! We ate the most incredible smorgasbord of Mexican favorites…Then came the fun! I was introduced to some wild Mexican culture in the form of family game time…The nearly 30 of us played game after game until night fell. It took Years off my life to laugh, and enjoy every moment with the joyous spirit of a 6 year old…Even if it was Just for that day!

At that same party, Mama (Mama Tona we called her) showed me casually that she had broken one of her fingers during the build. She was 67 years old. This pretty much summed up Everything for me. Here is a Woman twice my age, with a finger that is visibly broken…Who just finished a week of hard labor, with not so much as a peep. Nothing surprised me about the capability of these Women and what people are able to do with will and opportunity.

When we returned to the village it was time to say “See You Soon”. Mama thought it would be a great idea to all sit in a circle on the dirt floor of her home (A custom we did at the first “Pouring of cement” at all the homes as well) one last time together and say what everyone is Thankful for. This was my most memorable moment of all. One by one, the women stepped forward and presented me with their gifts for me in the form of notes, CD’s of songs we had listened to, Cheese, Mole…And some of the most incredibly moving words I have ever heard in my life. They were so grateful that I had come and shared this experience with them, they cried…and I cried..ALOT.

Here are women, who don’t know anything other than what they hear about people more fortunate than them. You would think, in some way…They would be Angry, Resentful…Thinking that I was returning to a life that is something they will probably never know. I cant say that if I were them I wouldn’t be thinking and feeling that…But here is the thing. They don’t, not even a little bit. They truly believe that they are Blessed. They have beautiful healthy kids, food on the table & Most importantly to them… a large family tighter than any I’ve known filling the chairs at their table every night. They have each other. They don’t care to know anything different.

The big question I asked myself every night before bed was…”Why Them?” “Why did they get this life…and I got mine?” “Why was I born in Canada, and they were born here?” Its a mystery, and I do have my own thoughts on it.
But one thing is for sure…
They may not have all of the material things we have…
But if I had to choose…I would take what they have.

These women changed my life, by giving me new eyes, new perspective…In essence…They gave me a new life! I made a promise that I would see them again, and that I would be able to help more…I intend to keep that promise!

Fresa Weddings is a great forum for me to use to continue generating awareness and funds to support this ever growing project with Habitat For Humanity. From sales of tee shirts to large scale Gala Events…We are working very hard to make sure this is the year we make our greatest contribution yet!

We will keep everyone informed through this page, and the blog as to ways you can help!