December 2022 newsletter
Joe Loney and Filo Siles, Bolivia
At this time of year when we express our wishes to family, friends and neighbors for a very merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year, Filo and I find ourselves reflecting on our activities in 2022. Can we do more to help bring about a peaceful world?
In addition to helping persons who are living with disabilities to improve their health, basic education and knowledge about their inalienable rights to justice, dignity and opportunity, we collaborate so that they can make strides toward sustainable economic independence. When the disability is too severe for the person with the disability to dedicate themselves to a small business, we team up with the mother, father, sister or brother so that the family can improve its economic well-being.
Three examples illustrate our experiences and future peace-building options:
Rubén has very significant vision difficulties that cannot be corrected by eyeglasses or surgery. His refusal to surrender to dependence upon others, however, is a true sign of the power and importance of the spirit to succeed.
Through our project in the rural village of Tacopaya for persons with disabilities, we have taught Rubén the techniques for beekeeping with a goal of producing honey to improve his income. Starting with just three hives and seed money to cover 80% of the start-up costs, 15 months later he now has more than 20 producing hives and harvested this year over 19 kilos of top grade, organic honey. Our next step is to help him market his honey with urban dwellers who will pay a higher price for the fruits of his labor.
Fernando smiles a lot, loves to learn and is willing to roll up his sleeves and work. Due to his complete lack of ability to hear and speak, he has often experienced exclusion. We have collaborated with Fernando so that he now communicates fluently in sign language.
Fernando told us that he likes to wash motorcycles and cars. Outside his parents’ home, located just one block from a main highway, we contributed together to purchase a high-pressure hose and boots to start his initiative.
One year later, he has many customers every day. In the coming year, we look forward to jointly improving his business with a cement ramp to facilitate washing of the undercarriages, an aluminum awning to shelter from the sun and a few chairs for his clients.
María Fernanda has very challenging intellectual disabilities. She can perform only limited and tightly supervised tasks. We met her in the main plaza of the rural village of Entre Rios, where she was helping her mother sell fresh-squeezed orange juice. Doña Nely was just getting by.
After listening and considering options, together we came up with a plan to improve the business. Doña Nely now has a movable cart to help her push her refreshment stand from her home to the main plaza or to nearby soccer fields. Additionally, we also teamed up to obtain a commercial-grade tool to greatly speed up the heavy, manual work necessary to squeeze the oranges due to the lack of electricity. The discipline of María Fernanda’s mother, who works seven days a week instead of just giving up, motivates us to work together to try to obtain a small grill in 2023 so she can sell sandwiches during the seasonal times when oranges are scarce.
Your generosity has been a critical ingredient in achieving the economic independence of Rubén, Fernando and María Fernanda — and you can help us make these planned improvements happen.
Will you continue to partner with Maryknoll Lay Missioners so that we can continue to bring about dignity, hope and economic independence for the more than 250 persons with disabilities and their families with whom we collaborate? With a timely renewal of your assistance, we can make many more strides toward building sustainable peace in 2023!
May you continue to be a peace builder, teaming up in your communities and overseas with Maryknoll Lay Missioners so that peace in 2023 will be a holiday prayer that comes true.
Please consider making a special gift to Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ “Walk With Us” campaign, which raises money for the recruitment, training and ongoing support of all of us lay missioners. We can only “walk with” the people here because you are “walking with” us. Now and through Dec. 31, thanks to matching gifts, every $100 given to the campaign in effect becomes $150. To donate ONLINE, click the “Walk With Us” button below. Thank you so much for your generosity!