Rosa Frias grew up in Mariano Roque Alonso, Paraguay, and moved to Canada in 1970. She returned to visit her family in 1995 and 2003 and found that living conditions had significantly deteriorated in the past 25 years.
“It was hard to say goodbye to thousands of children, with no clothes or shoes on in the tremendous heat, pleading for change for food or water or even anything.”
She decided to do something to help.
Beginning in 2005, Rosa began to work with an association of former Catholic seminarians (CESMA). Her dream is to build a medical/dental clinic for the children of Limpio, Paraguay. The clinic will be part of a multi-usage community site.
Here is her story.
In Paraguay when I was young, obtaining a secondary school diploma was out of question because my parents could not afford it. So I finished the sixth grade and started to work so I could help my older parents survive and have a better life. I came to Canada in 1970 to work as a Nanny and sent money to my parents on a regular basis. When they passed away, I started to help my sister in Paraguay for a time.
It took me close to seven years to complete my high school diploma here in Canada because I worked part-time while going to school, but I asked God for help, to give me strength and patience to be able to obtain my secondary school diploma.
In 1995, I decided to return to Paraguay because one of my sisters was ill with an unknown disease. With the fare so high I couldn’t just pick up and go, but something was telling me to go, so I decided to go. I am glad that I went because my older sister was terminal ill at the time and I didn’t know if I would ever see her again. It was very difficult to say good-bye to them.
Although it was difficult leaving them, it was a lot harder to say good-bye to a thousand children with no clothes or shoes in the tremendous heat (sometimes 47 degrees), pleading for money, or for food or water, or even anything at all that could be spared.
I feel sad every time I see one of the children in the street, selling things in this type of heat. Still other little boys and girls in their bare feet get on the bus so they can sing or tell a story to survive. My heart was broken during my stay in Paraguay. It had become much worse than when I was a child. Sometimes, I say to myself: How can Canada have so much, and Paraguay have so little? Why can’t these children be properly fed or educated? Why have I been so lucky to escape their misery?
I think God sent me to Paraguay to see those things so I could do something about it. I know there is just one of me, but I can do a lot of things if I ask for help. I want to help these poor children because children have a special place in my heart. When I was a child, my parents were poor, but I never saw so many abandoned children in Paraguay like now. I don’t want to see children suffer; I don’t want them to go hungry; I don’t want them to go bare foot and not have any clothes to protect them from the heat. They didn’t ask to be born in this world. They don’t need to suffer.
To the depth of my soul, I believe that there is a serious injustice here. Sadly, many people don’t seem to care what is happening to these poor children. They are only kids. They should be happy. They should be playing and laughing. Instead, they are in the street selling things so they can survive. What kind of life is that for these children?
Since I came back from Paraguay, my life is not quite the same, sometimes I can’t sleep at night. I feel sad every time I think of them – even now that I am writing this account, I feel sad, knowing and seeing in those helpless children what is happening to them. My experience is even affecting the way that I’m eating. I don’t know what will happen to the children, but I only ask God and other good people for help, for guidance and the strength to be able to go on and to be able to help those poor children of Paraguay.
A number of years ago, my brother-in-law approached me and asked me to help raise some money for this Center. I started to seek out some organizations to help me. I quickly discovered that Canadians generally don`t donate unless they get a tax receipt, so after two years of searching for an organization to help me, I found the Companions of the Cross who agreed to help me.
With some community help, I started an annual fundraiser at Dovercourt Recreation Centre, beginning in 2007. The goal is to raise $60,000 to build the Centre.
God brings me people to help me. God has a plan and He is in charge.
May the Lord bless and keep us together.
Rosa E. Frias