In the Summer of 1973, I arrived in Paraguay to serve as a Volunteer. When site assignments were given, off I went to Itacurubi de Rosario in the Department of San Pedro. There had been one Volunteer there prior to my arrival — a male PCV. After living with a family for three months (five daughters and three sons) I moved into a lovely brick house with a kitchen and shower room in the back, and a latrine…even further back in the yard. But for me it was a wonderful oasis. I decided to eat meals with the owner of the house who lived next store and ran a modest pension. My Spanish was so limited and my Guarani nonexistent, and I knew if I did not have daily “language time” I would never get better…so tereré, mate, cocido moments and meals with this family became a permanent part of my life. The Estigarribia-Olmedo family became my family. My host sisters and brother became close. They assisted me in navigating the good and bad days…over and over again. Their mother kept me fed…nutritionally and emotionally. My life path has crossed often with this family ever since.
Fast forward to June 2021. I am invited to my youngest sister’s wedding in…. New Jersey! An amazing venue on the Hudson looking over the river and the NYC skyline as it began to twinkle into the evening. I sat proudly at the family table. Fanny was 6-7 years old when I first got to my site. When she spoke at the reception she recognized me as the person who helped her to get to where she is today, to be the person she is today. She, her brother and I sat quietly at our table for moment…looking at this lovely location, the skyline, and each other. I finally broke the silence by saying…”my goodness, we have all come a very long way”. We smiled.
FoP General Board Member