all images and stories are the property of Catherine Beerda-Basso and are not to be used without given permission...thank you

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Colombia...stories from the hill

This is Gladys

 She is one of 9 cooks
who work in the centre's kitchen preparing the meals
for the ninos (children)

(Galdys is in the middle)

Gladys has been involved in this program since the very beginning
She was one of the women who walk the steps up to the top of the hillside
with food and pots in hand 
to cook for the children on Saturdays
when the demand became too great for the women to handle
on their own any more
they went to the pastor at the church Gladys and many of them attended
to ask for help
and thus 
Seeds of Love and Hope International
was born
So one could say
is one of our founding Mamas.
I was to give you a window into her life...

this is one of her windows in her 3 room shack
Gladys herself
lives on the hill
Gladys herself
in very poor
Gladys herself
faces much uncertainty every day
and yet she gives
she helps
she works
to give a better life to those around her.

these are the stairs to Gladys home
she lives in the home on the right
with the white boards and black tarp
the window you see is the same widow pictured above

that widow is in the first room you walk into
which is her sons room

a half wall divides the room
making the next room 
the kitchen
in it there is a small fridge
and barrel for water
and another window

in front of the small shelf
under the window
which serves as a counter top
there is a ladder going to the basement
where there is another bedroom

it is a precarious as it looks

from the bedroom there is an open hallway
to the outside

this is the view from Gladys' front door

this is Galdys' son Steve

when I met Steve 
almost 4 years ago
he was a shy, but happy boy
who had a mother and father who loved him
and were doing their best for him
and it showed
he worked hard with us
was part of our family
was eager and willing to be a part of whatever we were doing

5 days after we left on my last time there
Steve's dad was killed in a motorcycle accident
we were all devastated
Steve was one of the few children on the hill
who had both parents raising him
parents who worked
were committed to giving him the best life they could
parents who believed in something
greater than themselves...
it was a hard blow for their little family

now as a teenager
and a young man who has suffered a great loss
 Steve is at risk
he is starting to hang around with older teens
who are affiliated with the gangs
it is getting harder for Gladys to keep him in check
and she is worried
she is desperate to get him off the hill
to move out of the area
still working at the centre
but offering her son
a more positive environment

So she does what she can
she works at the centre
she goes to school
she is finding a way out
but I know
it is not easy

this is Gladys
she is a dear friend of mine
a woman of great courage
a woman of great strength
she is 36 and has been a widow for almost 4 years
I am in awe of her...


  1. I'm now in awe of her too and I just sent a prayer for Steve that his choices don't lead him somewhere dark. Thank you for sharing this. We need to know there are other ways of living in this world or we become too boxed in. I can see why you've fallen in love with this place. The pictures pull at my heart. xo

  2. Wow...This is incredible...I wonder why some of my other comments did not make it in your other posts? I have been reading your journey and you are in my thoughts and prayers. Transition and family issues together make life a little raw. I understand that. I see you still find beauty everywhere though:)

  3. sigh. thank you for sharing their story.

    it's one of the saddest and toughest things, i find, that even the parents and the kids who want something better, are in an environment so engulfed in hopelessness that turning to a gang feels like hope, a belonging in a place where one feels so lost and aimless.

  4. oh bless those homes and yet they still give so much that to me is true human kindness right there
    I'm glad Gladys has a friend in you she is very blessed indeed
    May Steve be kept safe xxx

  5. I can't believe this gorgeous lady is my age...and yet I cannot imagine living her life. I will pray that she can find a way to keep her boy safe. What a loving and generous heart she has...thank you for sharing her story. You are a wonderful friend xx

  6. Beautiful I am humbled at the plenty that I have, and how I do nothing...and Gladys who has so much less then I, does so much. Really really humbling. My heart breaks, and I will be praying for her and her son.

  7. Humbled to be a Witness just through Photographs. Raw hearts, each One. May Gladys&Steve find a means beyond, yet such credit&Bravery. Such certainty of Self to face&give to change the World around them. Wow.
    I have lived in Danger& the streets so know a taste of a World alike to this. Love & Strength to Them.
    What can We do for Them from here? I & my Family would like to Help.

    (*I am still having issues with commenting on Blogger so my Silence is not intentional)


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