Many years ago I heard about the Manuelita Foundation. I heard about it thanks to a very good friend who is a member of one of the families that are incharged of it.
Since the moment Alejandro told me about La Manuelita during our collage years, it struck me and I remember thinking that I wanted to see it with my own eyes. More than a decade has gone by since I found out about its existence, La Manueltira, created in 1915, has been working since 100 years ago.
Here you can see a family big at heart, and with hard work and love, they have created a place were seniors may have a dignified life in a place filled with joy, peace and light in Cajicá, outside from Bogotá.
As chance would have it, my oldest daughter was raising money for another foundation that her school visited. She, was only five years old at the time and said: “mom I want to help old people, I want to give them food.”
I immediately thought about my friend Alejandro and his family. I called him and set up a date so that we could see the Manuelita headquarters.
Since I steped in the Manuelita headquarters I sensed the love and dedication that this family and their staff, who give their time and heart to so many seniors have. Most of them aren’t lucky enough to have a family that may take care of them as they get older. In may cirmunstances this happens because if a lack of money, time or both.
The facilities are state of the art and extremely clean. Each resident has their own room. Common areas for recreation, dinner room, church, parks, first aid, bathrooms and showers fully equiped for their nessesities.
How to help
During an entire morning I had the opportunity of getting to know this Foundation and giving my daughter the oportunity of seeing how many seniors end their days. As the visit came to an end, I asked how could we help and they told me they where looking for someone who could volunteer in a recreational activity. They need an activity such as dance or exercise where they could move and step out of their routine. My answer was Ok, just let me think.
As I was driving back to Bogotá, while we where stuck in an umberabble traffic jam I kept asking myself: what can I do? Truthfully, I don’t feel capable of giving a dance clase because I cant measure their capabilities. I would trully love to, to make them move thier body and make them happyy but I don’t know how to.
A few days went by and a very good friend said she would give me a hand in teaching them dancing classes. She had all the technical knowledge that was requiered. Thanks to her I have had the oppportunity of feeling my most humane and compassionate side for others.
The traffic jam, the distance, the tight schedule the dancing teacher faces and other inconvinients don’t really matter tu us, we are enjoying this opportunity to help others.
The fragility of the human being
I must say that seeing the fragility of the human being is heart breaking. But, beneath the pain I may feel, I discover that it comes from the fear of finding myself in such a place, of not being able to take care of myself and all those minute details that come with old age that I honestly don’t want to live.
Each time I visit the Manuelita I feel a roller coaster of emotions. But their joy, how they enjoy music and dance, their gratitue for this amazing time bith fulfill and overflow each of my emotions.
The Manuelita seniors have shown me that people are born and end their days needing others. That we need each other in order to survive. We are made to relate and support each other. It is never to late to start helping others.