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The Corridors of Power... Paraguay

As I travel to my destinations, and change planes along the way, I love how fewer and fewer people turn down the corridors with me at the airports, and how empty (and smaller) the planes become, until it’s just me and a flight crew winging our way to some remote locale. Of course, after that, there’s usually a land-travel portion that includes vans, jeeps, local buses, tuk-tuks, and/or long walks.

It was exciting to be getting on a plane to Paraguay to do a new project—this one, particularly. We’ve been prepping it for more than a year—mostly due to the fact that MicroAid is buying the land for a family to get them out of the flood plane, and we’ve been looking for a suitable site. It’s the only sure way to keep them out of harm’s way.

As I was flying into Asuncion, and looking down on all the glittering points of light, which represent individual people, thinking about all the millions of points of light between New York and here, I thought about the fate that brought me together with our beneficiary family. And I thought about all the other people we’ve helped around the world—out of the millions and millions who need help—the miracle of us coming together with these few. So lucky for them, so lucky for us.

Wednesday was a medium-long travel day—one 5-hour flight, a layover on Panama City, then another 6.5-hour flight to Asuncion—but at least it’s the same time zone as NY, so no jet lag.

I hit the ground running on Thursday: Met with the key players on the project at the modern and sprawling offices of Raices Real Estate, one of the biggest developers in Paraguay. The head of Raices, whom I met last year, has been so helpful: assigning agents, engineers, and lawyers to assist. It takes a lot of people to make this happen: donors, other humanitarians, project managers, and the beneficiaries themselves.

On Friday, I went to the title company with Rosana (the mom of the beneficiary family), two Raices employees, and Gabi (the woman who introduced me to Rosana’s family), to purchase the property. It was an exciting day for everyone, and it all went smoothly. I was confident that, between me and Raices, all due diligence had been accomplished, and we transferred the title to Rosana. Now we will move on to building the house!

It’s nice to be in Asuncion again—dropping in on the various restaurant and markets I got to know so well last year, and reconnecting with the owners and/or the people who work there.

On Saturday, I met with Rosana and her family (the beneficiaries) to go over next steps. But they also wanted to have me over to their current home in gratitude. I asked her not to prepare anything special—I’m sure they were going to do carne asada, and I didn’t want them to spend any money. Also, when I told Rosana I am vegan, she said that she had heard about people who didn’t eat meat, but she never really believed it !

Ah, life in the field.

Ciao from South America.

Jon Ross

Founder/Project Manager


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