only a miracle… or $4,000

Ok, I’m using my own blog to see how much kindness and willingness to help I can find.
My best friend has 5 children, lives in New Orleans, doesn’t have a mother and her whole family lives in Venezuela.
She has a great Catholic community that helps her be a happy mom, but as you can imagine, she has no help other than friends.
Her biggest dream is a Bicycle that just arrived in the USA and where all her kids fit. Her youngest is a month old. I would buy it if I had the money, but since I can’t pay for it, I can try and find the money to give her the bicycle.
Here are the details:
“If only one word could be used to describe an entire way of life, as well as the object that makes that way of life possible, only the Dutch word ‘Bakfiets’ would suffice. So it’s no surprise that when you decide to Bakfiets you are leaving the stresses of your car-centric world behind you in favor of a more simplistic, liberated lifestyle that you can truly call, carefree-car free.
Base Price:

So, if 2,000 people can give $2 I can buy the best Mother’s day gift ever….Be one of them…

I know it’s hard to trust someone with your money, but I give you my word, every single penny goes to that purchase; once I find the whole money needed, I will let you know and will send you the conclusion with pictures.

Please help me help her. Send a check for any amount you can. Email me for details:
She will have no idea of this surprise… but she is the best mom I know, and she deserves it.




Para Ian en su primer cumpleaños.

Hijo, eres perfecto.
Cuando me decían que el tiempo vuela, no me imaginé que era en un F-16.
El tiempo de verdad pasó volando y no tengo cómo agradecer que pude pasar contigo cada minuto.
Me quejé mil veces, hasta te grité cuando perdí la paciencia,
Pero aun cuando estaba desesperada, eras perfecto.

Soñamos tanto con tenerte tu papi y yo que damos gracias a Dios a diario.
No sabíamos exactamente cuándo ibas a venir por fin, pero llegaste cuando quisiste.
Te queríamos exactamente como eres: perfecto.

Mi misión durante tu primer año fue quererte y no malcriarte,
Y de ahora en adelante mi misión es seguir amándote y ser la herramienta para que crezcas sano, para que heredes las cualidades que tenía tu tío Alfredo, para que sigas los pasos de quien tu quieras mientras te haga felíz.

Mi misión es no darte todo lo que quieras en la vida, sino enseñarte a que tu mismo lo obtengas con esfuerzo, mente y alma en conjunto, para que lo aprecies más.

Te pido perdón porque habrán muchas ocasiones donde voy a tener que regañarte,
Cuando no seas bondadoso y leal te reclamaré también. Y si se te ocurre no tener humildad tendrás que oírme. Te pido perdón también porque te haré pasar pena más de una vez, y te provocará que te trague la tierra, pero eso se te pasa cuando seas más grande.

Quiero que esa sonrisa que me derrite, se te quede plasmada en tu cara. Quiero que me den a mi las enfermedades, y que nunca tengas que sufrir, pero eso es inevitable en la vida, también te pido perdón por traerte a un mundo que a veces es muy injusto.

Pero ten por seguro que si juegas bien tus cartas, vas a ser siempre felíz sin necesitar mucho y cuando te agobien las noticias negativas que nos invaden, mira al cielo en cualquier amanecer o atardecer, o cierra los ojos y escucha el mar. Eso te recordará que a pesar de todo, vivir es un privilegio y hay mucho que es bonito.

Mi muñequito, tanto tu papi como yo, tus tíos y abuelos y familiares que se fueron, nos sentimos bendecidos con tu presencia. Gracias por darnos la alegría más grande de nuestras vidas; nada se compara con tenerte…

Y aunque algún día conoceremos en ti algún defecto, sabremos que igual, eres perfecto.

Feliz cumpleaño mi angelito.


Learning Philanthropy Through a Homeless

Boca Raton, FL- January 2006.

Kindness struck me directly one early morning in South Beach. I realize now that I was destined to encounter this homeless lady.

Mrs. Maupin lived in the alley corner of 14th street between Collins and Washington Avenues, in the center of the party scene. Although she was homeless, she owned none of the typical vices of the average street person; she didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or say bad words. She just lived in that corner watching each day become night over and over again; for more than 22 years. She loved her 2×2 spot in the street, and she became a landmark.

Her English was almost perfect, no stereotypical accent. I think she was Cuban. Her manners were better than those of the average person; she said “I beg your pardon”, instead of “sorry”. She pronounced each word, be it in Spanish or English, flawlessly. Furthermore, she had the capacity of brightening your day with a simple, “Have a Good Day”.
I noticed she was different when I introduced her to my family and she replied, “I’m very well thank you and yourselves?” Concluding with “It was very nice to meet you”. How many homeless do you know that can talk like a college graduate? Her vocabulary indicated a degree of education. At the same time, her taste in food (Roast Beef Sandwiches), her delicate ways and even her femininity (She sewed her own clothes) were a sign of a well lived past. Due to the lack of physical activity, she became overweight during the years.  “I used to walk miles and miles and then go swim in the ocean”- she once told me while her eyes lit up with excitement. She stopped doing that when her stuff (toilet paper, food, walker, and bag) began to get stolen.
It is surreal to imagine such a character living in the streets of such a crowded location where on occasions drunks walked by her and insulted her just for being there. Even harder is to imagine the reasons why she lived there for so many years. She had a normal life, without a job, but respecting her fellow civilians and neighbors; buying from the corner shop and the gas station. She was a consumer without a roof over her head. She didn’t beg nor ask for money, and furthermore, she didn’t accept anything from strangers; she had pride.
Every morning before I went to work she was the first face I had the honor to see. “Hello beautiful”, she said while an instant flow of good energy ran into my body. “Hello Miss Maup”, I said while taking her money to go buy her coffee. (She didn’t allow me to pay for anything). Mrs. Maupin was so extraordinary that sometimes she would even give me cookies.

One day, I cannot describe how I felt but her kindness brought tears to both of us. I was running late for work, (one which barely covered for my monthly expenses) went downstairs and told Miss Maup that I was in a hurry, but still I would get her coffee. Before she handed me the $1.50 for her usual café con leche, she asked me what was I having for breakfast; I casually replied, “nothing today, I’m broke.” To my absolute amazement, she reached into her purse and pulled out $20 and gave it to me. Suddenly, life was strange.

I grew up in Venezuela with all the comforts I could think of,  and now I was in Miami Beach, taking charity from a homeless. After refusing to take her money, she cried, and then, I cried taking it and feeling saved. I hugged her and began to walk with a different perspective on life.

She had the weirdest effect on the people I introduced her to. Many of them ask about her still.  After 3 years, I moved out of that place where Mrs. Maupin was my downstairs neighbor. From time to time I went back to say hello. One day she wasn’t there anymore. I worried. I let it pass and then I returned, looking for her. She wasn’t there on her corner; her things were missing as well. I called the nearest hospital asking for Gonzalina Maupin, they said she left months ago. How am I going to find her again?
It has been about two years since I last saw her smile at me. I miss her like you can miss a relative. I felt protected by this 60-something year old lady who was just content to sit below that building, living. Now, after she took care of my soul, I would like to let her know I’m happy. She should know that I owe her a great deal; she made me a little more humane and I am forever grateful.  Wherever she is, I have a feeling I will see her again, and if I’m wrong, at least I had the pleasure of learning the value of philanthropy through a homeless.

Mrs. Maupin is okay. She lives in Miami Beach in a elderly home, not the kind I would want her to be in, but her family has found her after more than 30 years looking for her. She left San Diego when her youngest offspring was 17, and I guess she lost her way. Her family is very nice and decent,  she must be so proud of them. I saw her, I hugged her, I kissed her, I let tears flow freely because my feeling that I would see her again, became a reality. I’m thankful.

mrs. maupin/isa 1999

mrs. maupin/isa 1999

mrs. maupin 2007

mrs. maupin 2007


one more day…

today my son turns 11 months, one more wonderful day I enjoy his blessed presence; and for that I have to thank the power above, and all my departed relatives in heaven…because I believe in heaven, as much as I believe in miracles.
My son is my miracle, and I never had a doubt that he would come. It was not at my time, it was at his own time, but he came.

For those women out there who have lost hope… that’s the last thing you should lose. Tragedies happen, every second of every day, don’t feel sorry for yourself. You will overcome. Time will slowly heal wounds, but it will.
One Love


Claudine, the story you never heard.

After I saw this, I had to write something… anything.

It’s the toughest thing I’ve read in my life. But we can’t close our eyes.

My aim is to denounce rape. I am 52 years old. I have nine children. We are suffering a lot even if they say we have peace. We do not. I will tell you what happened. I was selling beer in the market. We met some Interhamwe. They stopped us. They were talking Kinyarawnda. There were 12 of us. They said. “Today you will see. Today you will have other husbands.” They told us to lie down. They started beating us with sticks. They all started raping us. They took us into the forests. They beat us more. They raped us again. They walked us again to another camp until one in the morning. Then they tied us to trees. They tied us so tight. There were six women then and two husbands. They raped us in front of them. All the misery of the world was in our heads. We woke up so hungry. They said we had to wait for guests. New sex slaves. They came with a pregnant woman. They told me to cut her open with a knife. I couldn’t do it. My hands were trembling. They opened the belly of the woman and threw the baby on the ground. The woman died. Then they chopped up the baby and cooked it. Everyone peed on it with urine and put feces in it. Then they said we had to eat it. They bought bananas. They made us eat it. They said. “You fucking Congolese. You are eating your own sisters.” Then the husband of the woman who had been pregnant came looking for his wife. They took him to show where his wife gave birth. He gave them his small dollars. Then another soldier came and hit him and then they killed him. They kept us for two months. They said now soon you are going to die. Oh God, we said. They said, we don’t know God. In the morning we heard Congolese soldiers. They screamed for us to lie on the ground. There was lots of shooting. Then they told us to stand and we went to Panzi hospital. We were treated. We were not HIV. After a few days at home, the Interhamwe came again. They killed my uncle, my son, the wife of my brother. I could hear them cutting their heads.

claudine breaks the silence
your story makes me weap,
you are alive
it’s a miracle I know,
but how do you
continue to live,
after what you’ve been through?
Oh Claudine,
You changed my life,
You went through hell,
You’re living in despair
And it won’t stop,
Until the massacre
Ceases to exist.
Until the rapes,
The mutilations
And deaths
Become the past.
How will it end?
Will it end?
It is possible to change,
But when?
It’s already too late,
Those lives will not come back.
Those women are forever marked,
With the scar of abuse,
With the tattoo of
The beatings.
Oh Claudine,
You made us see,
That the world is not
The life with live.
That reality is harsh
And cruel and vicious
Where you live.
And it’s the Earth,
We share the same home,
And we complain about our jobs,
Our daily chores.
At least we have all that,
When all you have is faith
On a tomorrow that will
Bring a sun to shine your way,
On a future filled with justice,
A future where peace prevails.
You are a hero,
You are a survivor,
And I love you.

I feel your pain,
I’m here for you Claudine,
I want to be your friend.


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