Monday, February 8, 2010

If You Won the Lottery....

Posted by Terry McNichols

I wonder what you would answer if I were to ask you what you would do it you won the lottery.  What would you buy first?  Second?  Then what?  What would your other family members say they would choose?  On our trip to El Salvador, we invited the women of the community to come to a "conversation circle" and told them they could ask us anything and we would ask them questions.  Everyone was allowed to pass if they didn't want to answer.  This would not have worked if we had tried this on one of our earlier visits to this community.  But by the time we had visited 3 or 4 times, we thought it was worth a try.

We were surprised at the turnout of women, old and young.  We kept adding chairs and enlarging our circle.  We asked them several questions and they asked us a few, such as how old we are and what we (women) do.  The women in this community haven't had much to look forward to in the past other than having babies and working all the time,  and they were very interested in what we do in the world.  We were saddened to hear later that they really had a lot of questions they would have liked to ask us, but were shy.  Maybe by the next visit they will have gotten up the nerve to actually ask us.  They got a laugh out of our insistence that we really do look a lot better than we do when we come to visit!  They all are clean and neat and we are all in our REI zippable pants, work shirts, sweat running down our faces, hair straggly, no makeup.  We aren't used to the heat and have a hard time keeping our "looks" intact!  It was fun to show them a couple of pictures of ourselves actually looking nicer! 

One answer that made us sad was the question "What do you do for fun?"  They talked about a Patron Saints Festival in February.  But "what do you do for fun in a normal week?"  The answer?  "Nothing.  We work all the time except when you come to visit!"  They really couldn't come up with the concept of "free time."

But the big question was reworded from the lottery to "What would you do if you had a whole lot of money all at once?"  After a long pause, one of the braver women said, "I would buy enough food for my children and family."  Another said "I would pay off our land."  "What else?" we asked.  Nothing.  Nothing at all.

I am ashamed of our wealth at times like this.  These families lost 30% of their beans and 70% of their corn crop in Hurricane Ida.  (I think I got those figures right).  These are their main food crops.  We raised money to help Agros make sure they have food supplies until their crops recover. 

I do recognize that there are many in our own country who also do not have enough to eat.  But most of us would have an entire "wish list" of things that we would name were we asked the lottery question!  And enough food for our families wouldn't even make the list!

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