The Price Of Perseverance

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We are now in a drive to raise our monthly giving numbers. Little amounts given by lots of people creates stability for us. And we don’t need much! This stability allows us to connect brilliant, hardworking people (we call them Impresarios) to generous people around the world. In the blog that follows, Eileen talks about how vexing our work can be as per convention, and the forces that bend and sometimes break those who question it. Consider clicking here and giving a little each month. It matters!

And now, from central Guatemala:

The Price of Perseverance by FTF Field Worker Eileen Maiocco (2019-2021)

This month I asked Abraham, one of our Impresarios, a question. Why do so few people here think it’s worth it to help you?

He answered by telling a story. 

If you’ve been following FTF for long, you already know about Abraham. He’s a small man with a big heart who, by the grace of a generous stranger, received a free education as a child that changed his life. Now he’s paying it forward a hundredfold by running a free middle school for kids living in poverty. The absence of both tuition and government support means that none of the teachers receive a salary.   

Abraham story was about a friend who works at one of the banks in town. His friend presented a deal. “Make a pass-or-fail class assignment for each of your students to open a bank account with me, and I’ll give you $25.” Abraham refused. The assignment was deeply cynical. But here’s the kicker: In this society Abraham is seen as the idiot for passing up easy money, especially when he’s in great need of it.

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is what all our impresarios have in common. The gumption to risk their livelihood on a vision that few others can see is one thing they share. The courage to dream of that vision in the first place is another. But the more time I spend with our impresarios, the more I’m realizing that one of the less-publicized qualities that Guatemalan impresarios share is a healthy dose of criticism at some of the norms within their own culture. They question things.

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This led me to a couple of very important musings: As guests in this country, what is my place in all this? How should FTF interact with their most challenging notions? Promote them? Question them as our impresarios question their own culture?

And perhaps more importantly, how can we find ways to support someone whose vision is so radical that members of the community don’t believe in it? Should I even try?

The answer has something to do with doing what is right. It makes me think of what is good, beyond culture, beyond this moment in time, on this little piece of land I occupy called Guatemala. It makes me think very hard about my job. And in the end, I think that is something like the point of it all. Deep consideration of real projects and real people and how to love them both, authentically, beyond the internet, and beyond my immediate thoughts about them. Whew. Serious stuff this FTF stuff I call my job.

Support our work by supporting our incredibly dedicated field workers. As they say in Krio (Sierra Leone), “Small small is big big.”

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