A Lunch that Empowers for Life, page two
Marlin and Comedor
During our Monday meetings with the women of our domestic violence group, we shared how we had been affected by our encounters with the kids near the dumpsters and how we wanted to open a Comedor Infantil. One of the women in our group, Marlin, enthusiastically volunteered to help cook. We gathered a formation team of Hondurans who would meet in our living room. After starting with a prayer, we furiously brainstormed ideas and began to plan our first steps.
Luis showed up at our door bright and early to help us go around to the businesses, explaining our dream and asking if they would help donate something monthly. Amazed, we watched as the business owners, who themselves struggle to make ends meet, pulled food off their shelves. Some gave a few pounds of rice and beans while others filled the trunk of our car, each according to their ability to give. It was as if all of the universe, well, at least all of Talanga, was conspiring to help us open the Comedor.
With the help of a local social worker and Marlin, we selected twelve children to start with and enlisted their mothers to help cook. When we opened on November 17th, the children sat on the floor to eat their nourishing meal.
As the people of Talanga became aware of our needs, donations of tables, shelves and even a refrigerator poured in. Marlin, who washes her clothes in the river in Nuevo San Diego alongside the children's mothers, comes everyday to open the kitchen and start the fire. She prepares the food with the other mothers while talking, laughing, and dancing to the music of the radio. Before going to her regular job, she takes us to more businesses to ask for donations. She volunteers so generously because it hurts her to see her neighbors' children struggling, She knows each child and their mother's story. When we thank her, she simply says, "I feel happy when we can give them food."
room for children)
The sign on our door carries the Passionist name. But our decision as members of Passionist Volunteers International to open the Comedor was just the beginning. The dream, the desire, the vision, the essence of what Comedor is and will become is what we share with the community of Comedor mothers. They bring their spirit, Washing up – The kids wash up before lunch their energy, and walk with us as we constantly learn together how to make each day better.
Our relationships with them are truly special. They invite us into their homes to visit, take us to see the waterfalls on the nearby mountain, paint our nails and fix our hair, but most of all they humbly and honestly share their lives with us. Some have begun to come to our domestic violence group on Mondays. I often see them visiting each other's homes. We Volunteers, Marlin, the Comedor families, and the community of Talanga are all a part of Comedor. As it evolves each day, I witness how we are all empowered.
As a member of Passionist Volunteers International, my mission —our mission— is 'accompaniment': walking with, bearing witness to the crucified people of today, and letting this witness transform me. For me, Comedor embodies my idea of accompaniment. As I enter the front door each day, I feel as if I'm entering a sacred space, because it's here that we share our desires, our dreams, and our journeys. In this sharing and that search, I encounter God, and, of course, little Luis in the latrine trying to catch the frog, unsuccessfully. Praise the Lord! ✙
Jean Baumgardner and four other Passionist Volunteers are giving a year of service in Talanga, Honduras. For information see: www.passionistvolunteers. org.