Two days ago I had to say goodbye to a woman that I met a week ago. Her name is Elena Orozco. Her name is the only thing she knows how to write down but the life she lives I’ll write down so that it is remembered and shared with others. Elena works at a house as a maid and babysitter, at my first host-parents house here in Guatemala City. She makes $192.95 a month, roughly about six dollars a day, and for the ten (sometimes more) hours a day that she works, that is about sixty four cents an hour. Nevertheless, Elena is the sweetest, kindness, caring, most tender woman that I have ever met. Elena cares for her three daughters and does it with the most optimistic attitude while not displaying any of her daily worries. Her walk to work takes about an hour and a half and walks home at night which is a dangerous task considering the location of her home. Yet Elena knows no different. In the five days that I knew her, she changed my life. This woman has become so dear to my heart as I have seen her worry about her kids, get yelled at, and have tears running down her face while washing clothes by hand.
Elena reminds me of my mother, Emma Vergara, who also takes care of a little girl back home. My mother has never felt the need to share in detail the worries and struggles she had being a single mother with six children. But my siblings and I can now see that it must have not been easy. My mother worked no matter how tired she was and was able to take care of us on her own. She would work endless hours for us and give everything to us first so that we can have the best life we could afford. My mother’s love for us was her drive, her motivation to go another day. For that I will also work hard to obtain my goals and maker her proud. Now she is my motivation. Love is such a powerful thing! It moves us to take action. My love for Elena (the woman I knew for a week) and had secret conversations with has become a motivation for me now. This country has begun to redefine the word “service” to me. I hope to serve people like Elena in any way that I can. I will not forget how tightly she hugged me when I promised to call her. My hope is that you simply share Elena’s story with someone today. Elena deserves to be remembered, and people like her cherished forever.
Thank you God for the life of Elena, that she may experience your love in abundance. That you may work through me and others so that we may help in anyway we can to show them your love. Amen.
*Story published with Elena’s permission
Blog post by Reyna Benitez, Biology Major @FPU