By Carolina Cajas Angelica, Ecuador, 2017-2018 Diploma Course
Carolina is the first name that my parents gave me 35 years ago when I was born in Ecuador, a tiny country in Latin America. My last names, Cajas Nicolalde, come from a family that has a genealogical history full of variety. My paternal grandmother, a woman of indigenous descent from the mountains of the Ecuadorian Andes, my maternal grandmother, an ascending woman of blacks from the coast of Ecuador; this story is joined by the genes of my grandparents, men from the mountain range. From there, my primary family was born entirely in the capital city of Ecuador, Quito. My profession, the one that chose me, is architecture; and my great passion, the one that I chose the spiritual and personal strengthening path.
This path, still shortly walked, led me in first instance to work in several volunteering, in orphanages and with people with disabilities. At a young age I discovered self-help groups related to psychological, mental, and addiction diseases. Since I remember, my professional and personal search has focused on engaging with human groups so we can begin a conscious process of living and that, to find groups of women practicing Kundalini yoga, Zen meditation, and others that resulted in a great relationship with the Grail Ecuador; which later set the tone to meet the TFT in South Africa.
The search for tools to work with people to consolidate dreams, processes and social changes guided my curiosity to expand outside my region. So, I met the TFT three years ago and was accepted to go to the first phase of the training, which gave me the introduction of an effective community work, forging myself as a leader, in many ways. Finding useful tools to address crisis and problems in teamwork and with others through the application simple popular education methodologies enlarged the spectrum of possibilities for the application of TFT in my daily life. However, despite the high expectations, I could not complete the diploma, now I understand that those unacceptable rules that the immigration system imposed to foreigners and that stopped me to join TFT second phase, were just the needed experience to grow and understand how the system works. That moment in life left my heart somehow broken by leaving the new family that the TFT gave me, and with the thirst of knowledge. Anyway, I accepted that reality and what I learned guided me to apply TFT in my job and other areas of my life.
The Grail and the architecture, where I applied TFT, became the incubator of dreams. First, with the women of the group with whom I have managed to apply it by developing workshops with the biggest response and motivation, by starting to move from the contemplative to the execution of work with others. In architecture, I discovered a new field, climate change and how my profession, the construction and planification, is part of this sick cycle of economy; then, my aim is to be tremendously respectful of other living beings involved in what I do. Nowadays, I work with the natural areas of concession for Hydroelectric Companies in my country and socialization. Working with the community, finding the root cause is the order of the day, to understand that we cannot continue to consume what is not infinite. Alliances with neighboring communities and contractors have become a factor that eases the path to the objective to maintain the natural heritage.
The activities of the Grail movement in Ecuador have been more spiritual and contemplative and I am happy that we have taken this foundation and moved into more action. We have adopted some of the TFT methodology and we are using Popular Education in our Alternative to violence program. We have started forming alliances with other groups to have greater impact. One of our programs is with indigenous women- the Cotacachi
women in the Northern part of Ecuador. They live in the mountain. We raise awareness on how to manage violence within the family and the women find it empowering. One woman said she has learned how to deal with violence. She has learned that her life is hers. She knows who she is now and she knows if her husband decides to leave, or if she leaves, she will be okay.
Amongst the many programs I have been a part of, I also helped with a children’s program-Nature for kids where we raise awareness about environmental protection.
I live in constant process of change, externally and internally. Influenced by the economy, social, commercial, status, inequalities and more. The TFT gave me the ability to understand that in this life the realities are endless and collaborating working to improve life deserves to recognize all of these and to do my work with a constant sense of respect of the rest of existence.In South Africa, I fell in love with the little word “sisi” and that gave meaning to sister, a concept that focuses on what really matters, having empathy with my dignity and that of others.
I hope to finish what I started in the TFT; at the end the work never finishes.