30 June 2008


A Hispanic man stood next to Sr. Kitty on Pratt Street.  He didn't speak much English.  She didn't speak Spanish.  He wore a dirty shirt with "Mexico" emblazoned upon it.  She wore jeans that seemed a bit too shirt for even a woman of such small stature.  I ambled over to see what exactly was happening.  

"I'm going to get this Spanish man some work.  I'm driving him back to Mercy House.  There is a man next door who needs yard work done."

"Ok, well Sister, I'm coming with you."

Sister Kitty wasn't going to get killed on my watch!

How wrong I was about the "Spanish man."  In broken Spanish, from me to him, I found out his name was Victor, he was from San Marcos in El Salvador and he had four kids, two boys and two girls, all under the age of 13 still in Salvador.  He had worked cutting trees the previous day, hadn't found work that day, knew it would rain the next and therefore not work again.  So, he concluded, he would hopefully find work on Friday.  In the short car ride from Pratt to Poppleton, I learned much about Victor and he learned a bit about me.  Here was an incredibly gentle man, working for pennies of his actual worth, all the while being grateful and constantly thinking about his children.  Extraordinary.  

We found Victor work.  He cleaned out a backyard for 75 dollars.  I angled to get him a hundred, the landowner was horrified.  Sr. Kitty suggested 75 and the man, realizing that he was going to have a very messy backyard if he didn't take the offer jumped at it instantly.  

Driving back to the lot at Pratt Street, Sr. Kitty could hardly contain her joy.  She hoped, she shared with me, that this might be a small in road into the Hispanic community for her social outreach in SW Baltimore.  She explained that the community stayed largely within itself because of the severe fear and paranoia about being "picked up."  

So, here's some prayers for you Victor and for your kids.  May someday you live the America Dream.  Or at least be able to walk down the street without worrying about when the Dream will end.

1 comment:

Michael said...

It is true that most people are hard working and love their families. . just some of those people are poor. I had a similar experience when I helped a lost Honduran laundry woman
on the Metro.

Something funny but unrelated. The "new Kate" gave a short speech Sunday after the masses so we could all see who he was. Father introduced him as a relative of Dolly Parton. So he gets to the podium and says, "I've only been here a week and I've already learned to never tell Father anything."