Eugenia has been helping me help those who need it most in her pueblo in Mexico. I bring donations of clothing and household items to her home and she finds the people in her village who are in need of the particular things I bring. She is such a sweet and generous person, opening her home to me and feeding me every time I stop by, in spite of the fact that she has very little herself. She taught me to make tortillas, shared traditional Mayan recipes with me, and is even going to teach me how to paint the beautiful flowers she paints on her dresses.
NOTE: Eugenia's name is actually Maria Eugenia, which is why she appears as Maria (her first name) in this video, but she goes by Eugenia to her friends. When I first made this video, I did not know that, now obviously I do...... enjoy!
But, yesterday when I stopped to see her, I was heart-broken. She is having trouble breathing and the x-rays show that her lungs are black from years of breathing in the smoke and soot from cooking over and open fire.
I turned down a narrow dirt road in the back streets of Leona Vicario and pulled up in front of her wood-slatted house. The gate was open, a sign she was home. But as I shut the door of my car and slipped in past the towering jack fruit trees that stand sentry over her humble home, I sensed that something was amiss. Eugenia usually comes out to greet me as I call out, "Hola! Buenas tardes!" But this time, she came only to the porch and stood in the darkness of the eaves, waving me in, but saying nothing.
Her eyes were red, probably from crying. I asked her how she was and she responded, "Muy mal." Very bad. It flashed across my mind how much I love that she is always so direct at the same time that a sinking feeling came over me. Something was obviously very wrong.
I ducked inside after her to where the mostly empty room was dark and cool, a simple oasis from the heat of the Mexican sun. Her adult daughter was seated at the kitchen table and her eighteen year old son was busy doing something, but I paid no attention to what. Eugenia pulled out a white plastic chair and insisted I sit as she explained that she was having trouble with her lungs. She told me she had paper work to fill out before she could get any medical help, stopping mid-way through her explanation to ask if I had already eaten lunch.
It's all the little things that come crashing together that really get to you. The way her daughter smiles and tries to make you as comfortable as possible while her face is still clouded at her mother's distress. The quietness of the parrot in the corner who usually laughs, the absence of grandchildren who usually play with the kittens and chickens by the back door or run into the kitchen asking for a piece of fruit. The way Eugenia waves her hand in gesture that everything will be fine as she sinks into her well washed, but stained plastic chair at the head of the table in near exhaustion.
I love it there. I love being in her home. I love how quickly her son stops what he's doing to see if you need help. I love how her daughter insists that she will take over finding places for the donations I have brought with me since her mother is obviously ill. But that just makes it all the more heart-breaking.
Eugenia shows me the x-rays. She points out the blackness of her lungs. She shows me the breathing device she has borrowed from the hospital. I hand her the money she needs to buy one of her own. She cries and says it is too much when really it is so little. I bend down(she is so tiny) and hug her. I lay my hand on her back and pray that God will touch her body. She doesn't understand my English as I pray. It doesn't matter. We both know that our Gracious Creator does.
Later that afternoon finds me at the beach bar with a few friends sharing a bloody Mary with extra hot sauce and staring out at the sun sparking on the water. I will go back to Leona Vicario next week and see how my dear friend is faring.
In the meantime, I will do everything in my power to help...and I will hope.
If you want to help me help Eugenia, you can donate here https://www.thehappifyproject.com/give-back
I promise to keep you posted.
Hugs and love and with a full heart,