I have just returned home after volunteering at the DIF. I am not sure what DIF stands for but it is a voluntary organization that supports families in Alamos. It is housed in a large building next to the hospital and I always see alot of activity there whenever I walk by.
As you know our emotions have been very strong for the past two days. As we wander through town, we keep asking ourselves..what can we do?.....what can we do?
A mexican friend came to Bill and asked if he could drive him across the arroya to see his mother. Of course we would do that.
We gave another mexican friend a small $ loan so he could get to Obregon for an emergency.
We had heard that two people we knew slightly were missing and their house was gone. We went to their house, which was covered with mud and debris, saw signs they had been there and learned from neighbors they were in a local shelter. We left our phone number on a plastic jug outside their door. At the shelter, we were told they had left after one night.
We asked a shop owner we know.....what can we do..but she has a large family and all of the help she needs.
And that is how it is. So many families are so large that they are just helping one another.
We don't want to get in the way, yet, still, we know there is a way to help more.
So, I went to the DIF at 6:30am. Mande..they said...nessicitas aqua...comida?
No, no, ayudar....tu.....I point to myself and then them, and try to explain that I want to help, if they need help.
Finally a man comes who speaks a little english and he ushers me in to the cocina, which is filled with mexican women.
They put me to work stirring a pot of beans that is so big I have to stand on my tip toes. After an hour I know my arm is going to fall off. There are huge stoves there, and after awhile I notice the lady cooking about 50 eggs at once keeps leaving her post, so I scoot over to the egg scrambling station, fully ready to move back to the beans, but she doesn't return.
I keep moving back to the beans and looking over my shoulder, ready to keep stirring if she returns, but she doesn't.
So I become the egg scrambler......
I break about 200 eggs, stir them and keep scrambling eggs. Whenever a senora comes and takes off my finished pan of eggs, they bring me a new pan and I just keep scrambling.
Suddenly we are done with egg scrambling and someone brings me a new huge pan that sets very wobbly on top of all four burners I have in front of me. Someone piles a ton of chorizo in the pan and I start scrambling sausage. When that huge pot is done, I scramble another.
When that one is done they don't bring me anything else.
I am starting to feel in the way, so I lean against the wall, but I am ready at a moments notice.
Linda...calls one senora....aqui...... I am now at the end of an assembly line and I am in charge of putting four tortillas on top of the plastic plates filled with food, adding a fork, putting the plate in to a plastic bag and handing it to an english speaking woman who has just arrived in the kitchen. I notice quickly that she knows what she is doing and she knows her way around the DIF kitchen. I learn that she has been volunteering at the DIF and many aid relief places in Latin America for many years. She lives in Alamos and her spanish is very good.
Soon, the food plates are loaded into a box and taken away with many other boxes that we have packed and distributed.
Then, I am back stirring beans. Things are chattier, I feel more accepted. I open about 50 cans of frijoles. Then I slice and cube about 20 pounds of bolgna.
Back at the stove, I get the pan and I get the bologna and after I fry the bologna, I get more eggs.
After awhile, there is a lull and the english speaking lady, who is very well respected in the kitchen suggests that we all go out and get our shots.....
Our shots?....what shots, i ask her......oh, tetanus and hepatitus, very important now with all that has happened to be safe and get your shots......of course, now I am just a little nervous......
The shots are being given out at a table by the street, there are lots of people in line, but because we have been working in the DIF we get to go to the front of the line.
The nurses ask alot of questions and my friend helps interpret and when the nurse asks my date of birth, I say...hoy..quitorse de Octobre.....and then the year, which you don't need to know...
My co workers from the cocina, yell....compleanos! they tell everyone it is my birthday.
After the shots, one in each arm, I get a paper that says I need the rest of the series and come back in a month to the hospital to get the next one and the nurse says I might get a fever......
Back in the cocina, I realize I have been there for five hours. Another woman and I take turns stirring the beans, joking, but not really understanding each other, that our arms hurt from the shots....pointing to the pot of beans and the spoon and our arms, groaning and laughing....
I am pointed to the long table where I start peeling potatoes, and after four of us have peeled and diced about 50 pounds of potatoes, I think it is time for me to go home so I will have the energy to return tomorrow.
Suddenly, my english speaking friend starts singing the spanish version of a happy birthday song. All of the women join in and I will say it was very, very moving, especially when they all hugged me goodbye and said hasta manana...............
I cannot begin to tell you how good I feel.