Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Maria Carmen Lovefest

Today UNFPA hosted a reception for Dr. Elu which was attended by her family, colleagues in the NGO community and some officials of the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Elu is clearly revered and adored. Her husband told us that she is a feminist but he married her anyway. They married three months after meeting each other and will celebrate their 50th anniversary in December.

We thanked our colleagues at the Mexico City UNFPA office for hosting an event that allowed us to announce Dr. Elu’s award but they thanked us and said that because she was selected, it will help them with their work. It’s really nice for us to hear because, as a small organization, as our award only comes with a grant of $5,000. So we’re especially happy if our award offers the imprintur of “international recognition,” as it sometimes helps women who have to struggle against apathy or opposition from their communities and leaders.

This is obviously not true with Dr. Elu. While the government is not great on these issues, there is a support in the Ministry of Health and there is no obvious opposition to Dr. Elu’s work these days.

But we were delighted to hear that because UNFPA’s Mexico City office nominated Dr. Elu and their affiliation with her lends them credibility. Often the idea of being the AMERICANS can be embarrassing and hard to live up to. Rita told us a story of visiting UNFPA program in Bolivia several years ago and a woman who begged the Americans to fix her blind child because she was convinced that they could help. I’ve had similar uncomfortable experiences so it’s nice when we can sometimes spin the expectations into something positive for our friends and colleagues around the world.

Afterwards we had to say goodbye to Aldolfo (who was headed to Chicago with veterinarians to translate for them at a conference) and head to Oaxaca – where Mescal became a constantly offered drink. We were treated to full throttle Maria Carmen at the airport and she can be downright goofy. She makes everyone laugh, even when she’s cutting the line. We don’t even know what she’s saying and it’s funny. (She still retains her Spanish accent and I have trouble understanding her when she’s not speaking English.)

Despite all of us being pretty tired, we attended another love-fest for Dr. Elu where my Spanish had to suffice for Tanitra and Rita (a fate fit for no one) and where we were treated to Dr. Elu’s prowess on the dance floor.

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