An ode to fallen friends
An ode to fallen friends
“Yo miraba la luna de Rasquí, tumbado en la arena blanca. Y la luna me hablaba sólo a mí.” Jorge Drexler, La luna de Rasquí
Every night that I slept in the District of Columbia I listened to this gift from a dear friend. She is a woman like no other on this green Earth. I deeply admire her. I have learned as much from her in the moments we have coincided in time and space, but I have learned as much from her when this has not been the case.
The 4th annual Nexus Global Youth Summit took place at the most convenient time of service and volunteerism: during the holy month of Ramadhan! According to Islamic teachings, volunteering is a beneficial and productive form of sadaqa, or helping those in need. Not only does one benefit others, they are blessed and rewarded highly by Allah (SAW) and – a fact that is often overlooked – one learns how to become more productive in their everyday life.
I was sitting on a plane. That part is for sure. I am trying hard to remember the exact words that I was reading during the flight from Sydney to Singapore exactly two years ago. They elude me and I predict they will continue to do so for the rest of the night, so I will cease to attempt to remember that preface to a chapter in my Spanish copy of the “The Book of Five Rings” by Miyamoto Musashi, which is comfortably sitting inside a cardboard box in a basement in Monterrey, Mexico. But the reason I was painstakingly trying (and failing) to remember the exact phrasing is that it somehow comes back to me when thinking about what I experienced two weeks ago. I do not think these two events have a logical connection, but I can tell that in a deep level of my subconsciousness these two events, set apart by two years time and half a world of distance, are intimately close.
I am privileged to be serving at Women Deliver, one of the leading international advocacy organizations for girls and women’s reproductive health rights. The organization participates in the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) as key civil society players.CSW annually brings representatives from UN Member States, civil society, and other UN agencies together in New York to review the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action. This is a platform for stakeholders in Member States to evaluate efforts geared at achieving gender equality and rights for girls and women, whilst garnering support from a bigger network of partners globally in achieving this objective.
She was the closest friend I ever had while growing up. With a fairer skin, almond eyes and a warm smile, Jane (not real name) was a beauty to behold. We did everything together. But all this came to an end when my parents sent me to boarding school. Jane wasn’t fortunate enough to go to the above-average schools I went to but she received a basic education.
On day, I came home to a shocking story that my best friend had conceived but didn’t go through with the pregnancy. She had carried out an unsafe abortion that almost cost her life. I remember feeling sorry about her experience but never disappointed in her.
A brand is more than a logo, slogan, or name. A brand is an overall identity of an organization, or in our case, a global community. The Atlas Corps brand represents our values, our successes, and our vision for the world. Our brand is linked with our mission—promoting global service leadership among professionals from around the world, advancing innovation, and strengthening organizations through long-term service from diverse professionals.
Our name, Atlas Corps, is inspired by Greek mythology and the United States service institutions. Our name represents our dedication to creating a global community of leaders committed to serving the entire world.
Exactly a year ago, while I was in the middle of my Management Trainee Program in HSBC Bank, I got the opportunity to meet Scott Beale, Founder of Atlas Corps, in my home city and country Panama.
Small world, his wife was assigned to the US Embassy in Monterrey and Carlos Villereal was part of their Youth Advisory Council and also a current student in Global Leadership Program in Panama I coordinated since 2010. Scott got to speak to the July 2012 GLP class and asked them for suggestions on Panamanian social entrepreneurs that could be interested in Atlas Corps, Carlos and others suggested me and Scott, who doesn’t miss a chance to connect, got in contact with me. At the time, my goal was to learn how the for-profit world worked and operated, so I ended up very interested in Atlas Corps but turned it down temporarily.
Having to deal with time missed with loved ones of family and friends over the last six months has been the hardest part of my Atlas Corps experience. Whilst I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with the love and sisterhood of new forged friendships and acquaintances to counteract those moments of loneliness, sometimes even that is not enough.
Having somewhere to go is a home,
Having someone to love is a family,
Having both is a blessing.
This old adage has seen me through the turbulences that marked my Atlas Corps journey thus far. It has been a truly humbling experience serving adults experiencing chronic homelessness in down town Washington D.C at Miriam’s Kitchen. This coupled by my own housing problems made even clearer to me the importance of having a shelter in which one is able to call home, albeit even if it is a temporary one for a service year. In the initial few weeks of my fellowship, I was forced to move from the place I was renting and ended up staying with family. Though this initially appeared to be a blessing in disguise, it soon very became apparent that even with the best intentions in mind; people are often unable to maintain the level of generosity initially promised.