Community Update

World Pulse Toolkits Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits are all available here.

We are especially excited to share our signature Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Curriculum. Start learning today!

Steamed vegetables and fish tacos against guns

Sometimes we feel beaten. Personally watching the news gets me terribly down. So many important things to be said and, instead, we get the regular 20 minutes of violence, 10 minutes of curious facts and then 30 minutes of football and beauty queens. It’s the way injustice turns into an everyday meal you have to swallow cold. It is precisely on that kind of day I was robbed at gun point. The guy sat down by my side in the bus, showed me his gun and talked quiet chit chat for 40 minutes. I never got the point of it but finally could not stand it silently and asked, “Is it hard? Could you tell me what thoughts cross your mind when you get home after a day´s work? Are you proud?” “I´ve been meaning to quit, you know. It is hard. Knowing you could get killed everyday… and what about our families?” I was immediately silenced by the opposition of his lack of compassion for the people he robbed and his mind going immediately to his family. Maybe that´s the whole deal: lack of compassion for strangers.

A year ago, I was working at a field station in Yucatán. From time to time, we would pack our experiments in the freezer and try to enjoy a weekend away from the lab. This particular time, my friends and I went along the coast, the Mayan land was ahead, waiting for us to discover it´s wonders. After long drive, we came to a tiny town were the Coconut Festival was taking place. There was traditional music playing and dancing in the plaza and tones of cheap, fantastic Mexican food. In the middle of it all, there was a small hut and we went right ahead, curious of its appearance. Inside there was an old man appointed by the town´s governor to tell people about their environmental projects. This is a tiny, tiny, believe me, tiny town called San Crisanto, and yet, they had a recycling system going on, a huge plan for ecological buildings, a founding plan for solar driven energy and a reforestation plan for its adjoining wetlands. The hearts of 5 biologists skipped a bit.
Next morning we went down to the ecotourist hut, where we were told we could get ourselves a tour through the wetland system. Manuel was appointed to be our guide. We went all on his little canoe, which he maneuvered by levering with a long stick. We talked all the way into the wetlands about sustainability, about ecosystem health and human health. He appeared to be a simple man but his ideas where so global we were soon talking about fisheries running out of marketing goods and climate change´s impact on diversity. We were so tangled up in the conversation he invited us back to his house for lunch.

This was a small house harboring 5 children, 3 adults and Mamá Sofía (in picture). This woman had raised her three children by herself, keeping a garden in the back of her house and teaching them how to fish. Manuel and his two brothers took care of her now she was older, and kept her garden neat to eat and her grandsons near to make her laugh. They invited us all to have soup and fish tacos, coconut water from the palm trees that grew around the property and steamed vegetables from their garden. I had to explain my vegetarian diet as it is usual in latinamerican environments but Manuel understood right away. “People should fish only what they can eat” he said, with his yucateco accent, and then he laughed at the thought of Colombian fishes repopulating the sea. We stayed the whole afternoon in their house, sharing stories with this humble, yet amazingly sustainable family. When we left the place, we were silent. There was an awe in the air that no words could describe.

There are uncompassionate people in the world moving among us. They look exactly like everyone else but make our lives harder. Nonetheless, there are compassionate people too, who would share everything they own with a complete stranger. It seems each of these positions is part of a human nature that rules our society. However, I would like to think they are not. I would like to imagine a world where you get to make a choice about the kind of person you would be towards others. I would like to live in a world where Mamá Sofía´s kindness and strength can be transferred to her sons and her grandsons spreading through them like a contagious disease. When I remember her and her family, and other people of their same nature, I don´t feel beaten anymore. If you do sometime, think about strong people who would give up their duties in order to help a stranger and, then, you will be able to imagine a world without so much hatred and many more fish.

Downloads

Comments

Emily Garcia's picture

The kindness of strangers...

What a beautiful story!

During my travels as well as in my everyday life, it is so often the kindness of strangers that helps me get by. These people continue to amaze me with their compassionate and giving natures and encourage me to extend a helping hand to others in need.

The values Mama Sofia has instilled in her family are shared with everyone they encounter, and so I believe that your wish can come true--that their kindness can spread out to the larger world. It was shared by you, and now you share it with us through your story. Just think how may people might be moved toward acts of kindess or compassion toward others after reflecting upon what you've written here!

Thank you for sharing this story with us all today. It reminds me just how lucky I am to witness and experience the incredible love humanity has to offer!

Warmest regards,

Emily

Emily Garcia
World Pulse Online Community Lead

I agree with you, there are people that make this world beautiful and those that put pollution in the atmosphere in the form of negative energy.

I often have men approach me in negative and degrading manners. I have women that scowl at me and the rest of the world because they are so down trodden from said men and their "lot in life".

However, when I am confronted with this I try to remember the good people- the way my girls' faces light up when I smile at them. Aunt Polly and the love she has shown me- the kindness and generosity she gave to me and gives to so many others. I also keep ahold of the small moments, when a man has a respectful conversation with me about showing kindness to others- or even (alas!) when they seem to listen to me when I ask them not to disrespect me by speaking to me in such a way and to simply say "good morning/afternoon/evening" when they pass.

Holding onto the little moments and letting them gather is sometimes easy to forget to do, but if one can focus on them then I feel that they will have more faith in humanity! And of course, spreading joy and kindess yourself helps with the holding onto the good moments, and improving faith in humanity.

Beautiful post!

Peace and Love,

Sharese

Maria Cuellar's picture

Hard

Dear Cata,

It's sometimes hard to be selfless and kind because people feel like they have so many problems, and that those are more important than living a life in which you help others. It's hard to put into perspective the fact that people can be compassionate even in such difficult times, and that we can all do this. It is necessary to be positive in life, however, and to remember that we can still have a positive experience with everyone around us even in times of war.

They say Colombians are some of the happiest people in the world, and we have so much violence! :) It means we can keep our hopes up and be kind.

Thanks for writing this beautiful piece,
Maria

jadefrank's picture

Story picked up!

Hi Catalina,

Your journal was picked up by the Yucatan Living news site/blog:

http://www.yucatanliving.com/news/yucatan-news-day-of-the-dead-pink-taxi...

"This week, we invite you to read the experience, in Yucatan, of a young biologist and microbiologist from Colombia. After being robbed by a gunman on a bus (not in Yucatan), she thought back to another, much different incident the previous year in Yucatan’s own San Crisanto. She posted the story on PulseWire, a division of WorldPulse, which looks at global issues through the eyes of women."

vida.olive's picture

Cata

This post brought up so many memories of experiences I've had in Brasil and Mexico with the genuine kindness of people. There may be a lot of negativity in this world but there is also a lot* of kindness and mutual respect. This story of yours has truly touched me and made me see the good.

Thank you.

PazYamor,
Gabriela

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Letters to a Better World

Letters to a Better World

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

womenspace's picture

CAMBODIA: Ordinary Women Can Make a Difference

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative