Back in 1998, my country was devastated by Hurricane Mitch. I wanted to help. But how? I was just a teenager hanging out with friends, while torrential rain washed away people’s homes, destroying their lives.
Soon, we were locked-down. Classes were canceled. There were no more parties, no more friend time, only rain, family, and earthquakes (emoji).
During the slowdown, I found relief in writing. I wrote a poem where I released my frustration, anger, and sadness. In it, I offered hope and encouragement. It was full of promises and concerns.
Now I find myself facing another collective sadness, needing to write my feelings away to find calm, hearing the calling once again, “Provide light amidst the darkness. Find the beauty and make it shine”.
There is a line on my notebook that reads, “Writing beauty is how I survive.” I love that sentence. Writing is how I survived the devastation of Hurricane Mitch, and it’s how I am surviving this quarantine. Writing to find the language to explain the mix of new feelings I am experiencing every day.
Our current situation challenged me once again to be of service and find ways to help. But how? Thankfully, now I know how to help. I can do it by continuing to write and beginning to pray.
May I accept the beauty of my art and fulfill the urge to be of service during the hard times ahead. May you find your calling and offer it to the world during these uncertain days.
Here is the poem I wrote back in 1998. It was written in Spanish during Hurricane Mitch. I made an attempt to translated into English. Please scroll down to read it.
Y después del Mitch!
Días soleados se tornan oscuros, días de alegrías se llenan de amargura, familias enteras enterradas bajo nuestras tierras. Personas llenas de soledad, sin más que su pobreza.
Vimos el agua llevar nuestras casas. Vimos hundirse nuestras pertenencias. Vemos a nuestro pueblo morirse de tristeza.
Éramos un pequeño “algo” ahora no somos “nada” hemos quedado despejados de todo lo que nos rodeaba.
Niños y niñas Jóvenes y adultos, ancianos Nadie esta consciente Plantas, flores, arboles, y frutas, arroz, frijoles, verduras y vegetales, nada tenemos todo ya se ha ido.
Pero aún nos queda esa esperanza vaga, Esa esperanza que a todos encanta. Se escuchan a lo lejos esas risas perdidas, De niños que hoy mueren de hambre. Que hoy mueren de frío.
Y nosotros aquí, que si tenemos frío nos ponemos abrigo. Si tenemos hambre comemos lo que esté a nuestro alcance.
Ya no! Hoy tenemos que darnos cuenta de la realidad, sentir la profundidad del sufrimiento de aquellos que lo han perdido todo y unirnos para fortalecer esa esperanza y salir adelante.
El pueblo nos llama oigamos su clamor. No ayudemos esperando ser ayudados, No demos para recibir.
Hoy es cuando
debemos abrir nuestras casa, nuestros corazones, unirnos como un solo pueblo, una misma fuerza.
Sunny days turned dark. Happy days filled with bitterness. Entire families are buried under our lands. There are lonely people, who have nothing but themselves.
We saw the water carry away our homes, we watched our belongings sink, we saw our people die and grief.
We were a little “something.” Now we are “nothing.” We have been cleared of everything we love.
Boys and girls. Young kids and old adults. No one is aware. Plants, flowers, trees, and fruits, rice, beans, greens, and vegetables, we have nothing; everything is gone.
But we still have a dim hope. A hope that everyone loves. On the distance, we still hear the lost laughter of children who today are cold, and starving to death.
And we keep living. If we feel cold, we put on a coat. If we feel hungry, we eat what’s within our reach.
No more! We have to accept reality. Feel the depth of the suffering of those who have lost everything; unite to strengthen that hope and move forward.
The people are calling us, let us hear their cry. Let’s help without recompense, Let’s give without expectations to receive.
Today we must open our homes, and our hearts. We must unite as one people, one country, one force.