When I got back to Suchitoto after the eye surgery mission, I learned from Margaret Jane that one of our Suchi friends was going through a hard time. She's a young woman - I'll call her Maria - who works in a local restaurant, and she had come to ask if we could give her a loan for medical tests her mother needed. We have a special fund for local needs donated by some of our Sisters and Associates, and Margaret Jane gave her what she needed, and told her it was a gift. A couple of days after I got back, Maria came over to thank us and tell us what was going on. Her mother will need a hysterectomy - and the surgeon may remove her gall bladder at the same time. The surgery will take place at a national hospital, and so will be free - but the tests to show what she needed were not, as often is the case.
We learned more about Maria's life as she talked with us. She has two children of her own - like many women in El Salvador, she is a single mother - and adopted her brother's two children after his wife died from uterine cancer at the age of 27. The four range in age from 6 to 16, and they are all in school, though she herself never went to school. She grew up far out in the country, and learned to read from a book her father brought her. She and her brother support this family from what she earns as a waitress (working 12 hour days, 6 days a week) and what he earns fishing.
We were so happy that we could help this brave and cheerful woman with one part of her heavy load of family obligations. And we know that Audrey Kettell, CSJP-A, our UK Associate who sent the dollars that went to help Maria, will be glad as well. How glad I am that we were able to help - and how I wish that help were not so desperately needed by so many here.