I have asked Annie if she would give me permission to publish her letter, which she did, happily. I am sharing it with you.
Dear Friends and Family,
Well, this was a blessed Christmas in Teotitlan del Valle. Your donations rang up to nearly a thousand dollars, which comes to about 11,000 pesos. That goes a long way in a rural village. Plus, 12 brand new dresses arrived for young girls.
First, the dresses. I picked them up on Christmas Eve, just in time to get the gift bags under the Christmas tree. My strategy was to place the shiny new bags with tissue paper in them and a Christmas card, but no dress. . . . .just a note instructing the young girls to come to my house to choose a dress. Sure enough, early Christmas morning, Jazmine, Rocio and Esthercita appeared with their empty bags, ready for “shopping”. I left them alone with the dresses and a mirror. After a great long while and much giggling, they appeared in their new outfits.
Then Jazmine and I went to Edith’s home and had a nice cup of hot chocolate. Jazmine took Edith and the bag of dresses into another room for Edith’s selection. Edith joined us to go to Cecilia’s home, then Lola’s, Laura’s, Gabriella’s, Mariana’s and El Pidia’s. We were giddy with Christmas spirit.
Next, the bano seco, which means “dry bathroom”. I’ll be sending pictures soon, so you can see what it looks like. My neighbors, Esther and Rusio, and their 3 girls are delighted to receive the gift of a bano seco for their family. Rusio is especially proud of the new design that he came up with. It is more efficient and less expensive! The girls will help with the last step in the construction, which involves cleaning the bamboo for the walls.
Finally, we have groceries. Lola, who is 10 years old, does not speak more than a few words. She is a happy child, and loves to play with her cousins. You will see her photo in the mailing that I am sending to you. She is a beautiful, smiling child. Her mother, Isabelle also does not speak. We don’t know why. Isabelle’s sister, Lydia, cares for the two of them. Our project will buy groceries for this family once a month. They were filled with gratitude to learn of this, and eagerly made out their list of basic supplies.
We will also buy groceries for two elderly couples who are visually disabled. We helped them last year, and want to continue our support.
Other good news: Esther, who received a loom last year from our project is now a successful business woman. She is selling her weavings, which she makes into gorgeous pillows. I’m travelling around the USA and Canada this year, and will be selling Esther’s pillows, as well as another weaver’s, Chela. They are both beaming with pride at their new and unexpected income earning potential.
Other news from last year’s recipients: Josefina is now the successful proprietor of a Bed and Breakfast, Las Granadas. (Granadas are pomegranites, which are prolific in her patio). Antonia was the hostess for the village posada for Christmas. How do I describe what this means??? She hosted the images of Mary and Joseph on the first of 9 nights in search of an inn for the birthplace of Jesus. It was a beautiful fiesta. Finally, Teresa got married! She and Alex are now living her new husband, who is a musician in a Mariachi group.
So, my dear friends, thank you for your gift. It is much more than the gift of money, as you can probably tell by the warmth and joy in the photos I’ll be sending along. They are sending back some amazing smiles.
Besos y abrazos, Annie