My mother has been hired to wash clothes, layer by layer!
I will stop working as Doña Patricia’s domestic maid.
“El Centro Del Muchacho Trabajador” has offered me a trade,
It is an amazing deal: three meals per day, education, and medical aid!
Oh my Maria,
With my wandering eyes, I have been mesmerized:
You truly enjoy the chicken soup.
I have seen you take scoop after scoop,
You have even licked and sucked on every crevice of the bones and you have eaten many unknowns.
The little pile of already sucked bones sends a shingle down my spine.
The best of luck to you my Maria,
May you overcome all obstacles and preconceived ideas.
May you find a husband who does not beat you.
Just how the center has taught you the trade of sowing,
May you use your blessings and help other’s sow their own quilts.
* * * * Maria Tadeo is featured in the photograph and in the poem. If we concentrate on the picture, we can easily assume that this is an ordinary, adorable, little girl. Her hair is nicely brushed. Maria is very clean and presentable. She is even wearing a symbol of modernity: an unwrinkled throwback. However, unfortunately, this is not true. Tadeo is encompassed by a very undesirable environment, full of poverty and hate. Her house is literally composed of five boards, and it is located at the base of a very steep and rocky hill. Her 7 siblings and her mother all share a single, petulant bed that gives off the smell of urine. Her mother left her father when she realized that he was wasting the little income they received on his addiction, alcohol. The “Coca-Cola” sweater she is wearing was from a kind hand from the prosperous United States. More importantly, Maria is far from being normal because she possesses the passion, persistency, and desire to ‘salir adelante’ (go forwards), and succeed regardless of the many obstructions on her path. I had the privilege of meeting this inspiring and charming girl during a service experience in Quito, Ecuador. Marquette University High School, under the program ‘Somos Amigos’(We Are Friends), volunteers at The Working Boys Center (WBC), a social establishment that yearns to help the economically poor become agents and catalysts of their own prosperity. This program recruits shoe shine boys, who would usually not have the opportunity to receive an education, and offers them a trade, meals, and important life values. However, they not only concentrate on the boys. This non-profit organization believes that every child first attains their core knowledge from the family. Therefore, its motto consists of “A Family of Families.” Their goal is to unite the families under their Christian commitment, so that that in the future, they will be financially independent and mentally prepared for the perilous street life in Ecuador. I decided to title this poem “Christ in the Andes” in honor of this amazing institution. Despite the darkness, dangers and the poverty in the Andes Mountains that transverse Ecuador, the WBC is a symbol of optimism: there still exists light and hope for those who patiently yearn and pray for it. In the photograph, Maria fervently and devotionally grasps a crucifix. She anxiously and meekly requests aid from the photographer…me.