Fighting Poverty with Passion
As I write this month’s blog entry, I look out my living room window. It’s an overcast day. In a way it’s a perfect analogy of how I feel right now: when I began my term of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA in July 2012, the world and the months ahead of me seemed reminiscent of a sunny day, full of hope that I could believe in and that was powered by wonders yet to be discovered. In all sincerity, I was counting on my experiences at La Cooperativa to awaken within me the drive to fight for social justice for Latin American immigrants, a drive that had slowed down in the recent past. I did look forward to transforming the years of studying the last century’s revolutions in Latin Americans, the revolutionaries who gave up their lives seeking a better world for everyone, and the plight of the Latin American immigrant in the United States into a motivation to passionately write the best grant application, to fervently recruit the most dedicated volunteers and interns, and to genuinely devote myself to the programs and services that the La Cooperativa offered its members. But that did not happen. Storms, generated by greed and selfishness, have blocked the dreams I dreamt, just as today the clouds hide the sun in my beloved NOLA.
As I near the end of my term of service with AmeriCorps, I find myself struggling to get by each day. Part of me still has hope that somehow La Cooperativa will make it through, that there is a way that we can continue operating. But, to be completely honest, most of the time I find myself regretting choosing the route I am on. I really do envy those who have found their term as an AmeriCorps VISTA to be inspirational and transforming. I would be lying to the world and to myself if I did not confess that more and more I stay up at night wondering what would have become of me if instead of applying for this position I had just applied to a PhD program in History or Political Science. By writing down these words, I do not seek the pity of others. I know full well that I consciously made the choice of committing myself to two years of service to La Cooperativa. But it angers me to think that my organization will have to close down in the coming months, yet none of the people who were responsible for its collapse will be punished. They will continue to live their lives and go on to make more mischief in this world, meanwhile more than a hundred of our members and their families will come to face a very unjust reality. For the past three or four years La Cooperativas has played a crucial role as an intermediary between the Latino community and the Department of Children & Family Services. A large percentage of our members can hardly read and write in Spanish, let alone form coherent sentences in English, and yet somehow they will be expected to understand the intricacies of an apathetic bureaucracy?
I am tired. I am especially tired that there is really nothing that I can do to ameliorate this situation. Right now, I can only watch my organization burn down and hope that from its ashes something new, something better will arise. It breaks my heart to think that we could have had a great opportunity with the new Board and Staff Members we have now, but none of us our millionaires nor do we have the resources to repair the organization. And so, we patiently wait for Judgment Day.