Despite my roommates trying to convince me of my impending death by fast, the first few days of my fast went very well. I stayed to myself mostly, reading and writing and soaking up whatever vestiges of the sun that I could find on my back porch. The third day, however, the outside world called me back.
Marcelino, the Cape Verdean activist from Dock Sud called me to come down to participate in some exciting activities that were going down in the barrio. Gerson, a local teacher who also works with the community, was able to create a program with his students to help some of the chicos in the cooperatives in Dock Sud. About 12 students from a wealthy, private, English-Christian school excitedly volunteered to come with Gerson to meet and help out with the activities in a barrio outside of the city limits of Buenos Aires that most people warn them not to go to.
One of the many projects that Marcelino has been successful in implementing is a cooperativa of young boys, paid by the government, working collaboratively to provide the neighborhood with much needed services in construction and beautification. Gerson’s students, all impressively comfortable, friendly, and eager to make new friendships, also donated enough money to feed all of the cooperativa workers lunch for the week.
So they went to work: children of Shell Oil Corporates, the government supported, those who’ve traveled all over the world, those who only leave the barrio to go to a bigger boliche, and if I do say so myself, the projects were very successful.
Gerson, Brian, & Crew planting their tree together.
-Organizing and folding clothes the community collected to donate to a super rural community called Chaco.
-Cleaning up a vacant lot and converting it into a parklet and community space.
-Planting trees in the parklet.
-Making and setting cement tables and benches for the parklet. (Each will represent one island of cape verde..with one extra to represent the diaspora.)
I do have to admit that this was also my hardest day of fasting. First of all, Marcelina, wife and fellow activist, is an amazing cook who is always keeping the food coming from everywhere in the diaspora. She cooks food from her birthplace of Cape Verde, from Brazil, from Argentina and everywhere in between. Feijoida, Catchupa, Lengua, Empanadas, Pizzas. Her cooking, her smile, her spirit, her heartful commentary always hold every meeting, birthday party, event together.
Secondly, everyone and their mother kept trying to feed me. Yes of course, they were gestures of kindness, but
“how about some homemade cheese”
“just a little bit of dulce de leche?”
“come on, how about a café con leche?”
After explaining to people that there was actually technically religious reason that I was choosing not to eat, I realized how silly it can be to explain to people who sometimes don’t know where their next meal will come from, that you are fasting for choice.
It’s these moments that inspire my gratitude for exactly how blessed that I’ve always been, but also my commitment to try to live outside of excess. Though of course, it is always hard to draw specific causality between my financial position and someone elses but it is in our living excess that someone else does not have enough.