Thankful hearts are happy hearts
“The heart that gives thanks is a happy one, for we cannot feel thankful and unhappy at the same time.” – Douglas Wood
True gratitude and joy is a normal experience I feel when I have the privilege to be amongst my Colombian friends. In a culture where they lack so many every day things we take for granted, they teach me about genuine thankfulness. They teach me about deep-rooted joy, which doesn’t come from the tangible things in front of us, but it comes from the heart within.
The Colombians display this when I have conversations with them. I recently returned from a trip to Cartagena and Palmito to attend the graduation program of our first set of Luchadoras. I have a lack of words to express the emotions that came out of the time with those women, but I want to try to capture it with gratitude to give you a glimpse into the joy the women have in the midst of their struggles.
The power of 30
30 women completed the Luchadora program. That’s 30 women who now have the ability to cut and style hair and create their own income, giving them a brighter future.
30 women learned about their rights within Colombia. That’s 30 more empowered females who can share their enlightenment within a culture which undervalues them. As they share this, their strength in numbers will grow.
30 women gained knowledge about their own self-esteem through workshops and dance. That makes 30 women stronger to give the next generation of women a support system they themselves did not have.
30 women over the course of 8 months learned the Colombian laws, grew in their own confidence, gained vocational skills and began to earn their own money. For many of them, this is the first time in their lives to have this opportunity.
To say that the women are thankful and happy would be an understatement. During the time of the graduation, I listened to stories of women overcoming pain, shame, hurt, fear and lack of confidence. I drank in the new-found hope each of them shared with me through their dreams and goals borne out of the Luchadora program. They inspired me. They helped me see my own self in new ways. I feel grateful for the ability to be a small part of this experience and to meet these women. When I parted ways with these women after graduation, I carried a new sense of gratitude.
They think I arrived and the foundation gave them this opportunity to bloom. They are grateful to God and to each person who helps support Footprints with Hope. It’s true: you as donors and supporters did give them this opportunity. But what they can’t see is they gave me a chance to grow. The women taught me about gratitude. They showed me what perseverance is. Each of them displayed humility in a whole new way which helped me see life in a new light. They think we gave them the greatest gift ever. What they don’t realize is that they reshaped me simply by opening their hearts. So I, myself, have a whole new perspective on gratitude. Here are a few things I can appreciate deeper in a new way from listening to them and seeing all they’ve been through:
- A house over my head every day without fear of it being taken away
- Clean, reliable, running water. (For all needs like bathing, cooking, and drinking.)
- A bed
- A room with a door on it which gives privacy
- Electricity which powers all the many things I often take for granted
- A job; a reliable income which supports the ability to do fantastic adventures in life and even just live simply with what seems so normal to us but are luxuries in other countries
- Food. I have never gone hungry. Many of them are limited to small portions and lack nutrients.
To be honest with you, I could continue the list of simple gratitudes. Moving into 2022 and continuing our Luchadora program, we will welcome another 30 women. We have hopes of being able to include even more women as well. We’ll be working with women from a sector inside Cartagena that is illegally created for displaced people.
They’ve rigged electricity, have no running water or sewage and their homes are often pieced together with plywood. Their “bathroom” consists of tarps encircling an area where they can bathe and go to use the restroom. The ladies in this sector have a very hard life, and we are looking forward to working with them. See below for a photo of this area, called La Maria.
Would you like to hear more stories first hand? On December 4 at 6 pm we will be hosting our Hope for the Holidays Gala at Hope Hotel in Dayton, Oh. There we will share with you through video a few stories of women who have gone through the program. We will share with you stories of clean water in villages for the first time. And we will have first-hand stories from our Colombian project manager. We will share more photos from the area where we will be working in 2022. And we hope you will join us! You can purchase your ticket here. We really hope you’ll come join us to learn more and enjoy a meal with us! Thanks for all your support. We are grateful for people like you who join our efforts to support these women.