Butterflies…. They have always caught my attention.
They are beautiful beings in constant change and motion. My favorite: the monarch. It is a butterfly that keeps migrating without breaks, she goes up and down, south and north, always focusing on migrating to escape the winter.
It was fall, and I was at the NYC airport waiting to catch my plane to go to Colombia just for a few days.
There I was with my family and beloved ones, including my colleagues, partnerships directors from each office in Chile, Peru, Haiti, and Colombia.
I arrived two days later, and I was staying there with all of them, with all those fantastic Latin American accents. Ivo, our partnerships director at the Chilean office, a beautiful Colombian woman in her late 20s, and with a heart of gold, came to the door and with a smile dimpling her cheeks, she welcomed me with a big hug and greeted: Li!!! During the first day we visited the project in Guasca. I know that is one of your favorite projects, and suddenly, she gave me a handmade bracelet from one the girls at the project. I viewed the bracelet as if I had just discovered a treasure from the mines of Solomon. I hugged her and said: Ivo!! Thanks! You are the best!! and I was not surprised because that’s the way she is. That was the beginning of a wonderful week full of laughs, hard work, Colombian lunches and natural juices with uniques Colombian fruits like lulo or maracuya, the ones that you dream of when you are not in the tropics.
The week was moving forward, and we decided that the last activity of our meeting was to go to Monserrate, a mountain in the downtown of Bogota, with one of the best lookout spots to observe the city. We all went up and arrived directly at a restaurant to drink one of the best soups you will ever try: “caldo de costilla” ribs soup, that’s the cure for a hangover, the soup when you are sick, happy or sad, the soup that my aunt Rosalba made every year when I visited her in Boyacá as a child.
Meanwhile, while we were looking at our city, Ivo and I were talking about our plans for the future. We were discussing about how great our organization was and how time had flown by. Five years ago, same as the monarchs that left their chrysalis, Ivo decided to pack up and go to Chile to serve for one year at an NGO to support a project working with Haitian migrants. Since she was a very dedicated and hard worker, she joined the staff of our organization as a fundraising coordinator and then became the Partnerships Director at the Santiago office in Chile.
Both of us, two Colombian women working abroad, were looking at our city, and at the same time, envisioning with gratitude the learning that we had done the past few years. We talked about our plans for the future, our plans for studying, traveling, and to keep migrating.
On the 1st of November of 2016, I landed in DC, full of love and with energy focused on continuing that routine that I had been building for the past five months.
That week was passed in the blink of an eye, as I was planning to watch a movie that Saturday night and relax. On that cold night, on the start of the approaching winter, I received a call from Santiago. I just heard that two hours ago, Ivo had suffered an accident and there was nothing that could be done.
Ivo was not just the Partnerships Director at the office in Santiago, she had no space in her calendar because she had an insatiable thirst for social justice and kept filling her free time by serving at an NGO teaching Spanish classes to migrants from Haiti. She never stopped biking and was a positive force for everyone. One time, when I was trying to catch a flight (stand by status), she said: “Li! Do not worry! You will make it! That plane was meant for you!” She had a relentless faith.She would dance salsa all night long and lived life to the fullest. She was just a light in other people’s life and helped others to shine! She knew the true meaning of giving and of serving.
Ivo’s example has taught all of us a great life lesson: To get everything in order and live life to the fullest! Because you never know when you will need to pack and migrate without any return ticket.
We always love you, dear Ivo!
Thank you for leaving your everlasting love to keep fighting!