Editors note: This blog post is written by Rebecca Swanson Groves, writer for Footprints with Hope
Boldly stepping forward
When we are called to action, we must choose one of two options: To ignore or defy what we are being asked to do, or, to rise to the occasion and boldly step forward, conquer our own insecurites, do the hard work, and answer the call being presented to us. The first time I joined a team to travel to Colombia, it was a last-minute push to fill a spot.
In 2018 I rang in the New Year in the streets of Nicaragua. We spent time learning the local work that was being done. The worked included the local farming programs within the cities, feeding programs for children at the dump, and getting shoes for children and farmers. I had just returned and had caught the mission’s bug, and I was eager to serve where the need called. I would answer. Not long after, a Colombia team leader approached me and I learned about the need in Colombia.
What a wonderful way to be introduced to Colombia, to join a team a month before leaving. (Not just once, but twice!)
A new-found heartbeat
High above the Caribbean Sea, I got the low-down about what we were doing. I learned the history of the location we were going to, and the briefest show-and-tell of the country. The nice long wait in immigration was a great time for me to ask questions and to learn more. How long had this partnership been established in Las Brisas? What is the primary focus in the village? What are the demographics? Why are the demographics this way? (I am a master at 20 questions). Spending a week in the village and with the people of Las Brisas changed my heartbeat forever.
What a mission, what a country, what a community! As the bus pulled into the Cardona-Rabb clinic, the children of the community greeted us with signs of welcome and blessings. They were eager to greet their American friends and to catch the score of the futbol (soccer) game coming through the bus speakers. Welcoming smiles from loving people warmed and changed my perspective of humanity.
How does one person, one team, one organization meet the needs of a school, a whole village, or an entire country?
Simple… One step at a time!
One step at a time
This is what Footprints with Hope is actively doing throughout Colombia. Taking one step at a time, into communities, villages and lives of the people of Colombia. This was my 3rd trip to Colombia, but my first time experiencing the focused need of the women and children of Colombia.
On previous trips, the focus was on the physical needs of a church building, maintaining and stocking the clinic and bringing fun and engaging Bible stories to children. Engaging on this new level with the foundation was just what I needed to springboard me into this deeper and hyper-focused need with the women of Colombia in the villages as well as the city.
Our March Luchadora team
Our 2022 team went into the villages of Pueblecito (Palmito), Las Brisas, and Alto de Julio. We then turned our efforts to focus on the women in the Luchadoras en Acción program in the city of Cartagena. We traveled a lot of miles and were able to meet so many women!
Each community touched us in different ways. Many times, our agenda changed, and we remained flexible in delivering different talks with different women and allowed those talks and messages to impact the community in an unexpected way tat that time. In reflecting on those moments of change as a team each evening, we were amazed at how it really seemed that was the exact message that needed to be shared in that community.
The women of Pueblecito and Bajo Grande were welcoming, loving, strong women. Full of hope, compassion and dreams. As we heard about the long-awaited time they spent waiting for someone to notice their village and their needs, the weight of that sank in deep for me. As the second team that had entered that village, the weight was that we were the answer they had been waiting for.
Alto de Julio
The women in Alto de Julio took time to release the things they believed or are told about who they are, and then accept the truth being spoken over them about who they really are. As balloons popped, popped, popped, the laughter filled the room, as women sat, squeezed and poked their balloons filled with their insecurities, worries and lies, the room felt lighter. The activity was small but the impact was lasting.
Las Luchadoras of Cartagena
We spent our final days with the new women in the Luchadora Program. They began the program, which lasts 7 months, in late February. As we were there in early March, they were still new to each other, but their stories were a tale as old as time. This is the foundation on which Footprints with Hope was established, to meet these women in their needs and help rewrite their future stories. As we got to meet these incredible women, we worked with them on establishing their own boundaries, as well as what it means and looks like to come together as a community supporting one another in their needs and in their successes. These women empower one another and they are dedicated to making a difference in their families and their communities.
A changed life
Each time I have the opportunity to step into Colombia, my life is changed for the better. I become a more patient, a more compassionate, a more aware individual. Partnering with the Foundation and stepping into their world of work and mission has impacted my heartbeat. It seems incomplete when I have come home- like there is a small part of me left with the women and children, the programs and the work being done in Colombia.