Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In Memory of Éliane Wilches Peña

As many of you know, my good friend Éliane passed away recently. Since her death, I have been struggling to find an appropriate way for myself and others to honor her memory. I thought about planting a tree or a small stand of tulips for her, or having a nice bench placed somewhere with a placard...but none of those seemed quite right.

Éliane has talked to me many times over the past few years about how she would like to adopt a little girl from Colombia some day. She wanted to be a mother and thought that a motherless child from her parents' country might be just the right person to help her start her own family. Now that she's gone, I keep thinking about the little girl out there who will never know Éliane and get the chance to be a family. I will continue to imagine that little girl for many years, I think. This brought me to the idea of supporting her somehow. To me, a child represents a hopeful future and endless possibilities. Éliane needed that. It seems like a much more fitting and worthwhile tribute than tulips, not that I don't love tulips.

So I went in search of an orphanage to donate money in memory of Éliane. First I went to Mercy Corps, then to World Vision: both great organizations with ties to children's charities all over the world, but neither of them had an easy way for me to locate a needy institution. So I started doing some of my own research. This brought me to an orphanage in Cali, Colombia that was founded over 80 years ago by a man named Dr. Oscar Scarpetta. He started The Instituto Oscar Scarpetta Orejuela in 1929. It is a "private, non-profit, organization that in correlation with the community, the state, and families is committed to develop health, education, protection and participation programs for boys, girls and youth who are orphaned, abused, abandoned, and in danger situations, with the aim to help them grow into healthy human beings who can become a live example of human values, in order to actively and effectively contribute to their self, family, community and country’s transformation."


I had the opportunity to speak with the founder's granddaughter, Alexandra, who is the U.S. representative for the organization. When I went to call her I noticed that her phone number has a Washington State area code. Small world! She is local, and a lovely person to boot! We talked for a while about my reason for calling and my friend's death. I feel like the timing of it all is in some way providential, since the orphanage is in a funding push right now to supply some of the basic needs of the children in their care.



The orphanage has been run by the same family since its inception 80 years ago, for the past 35 years by the founder's daughter Doña Nohemy Scarpetta de Espindola, known to many as Mamá Nohemy. She and the orphanage have received many awards including from Unicef and a Medal of Merit from the Colombian government.




I urge others to donate as well to this cause, whether or not you knew Éliane. Donations can be made directly to the orphanage, though smaller amounts should be pooled to avoid multiple bank transfer fees, which can end up eating up much of the money. If you would like to make a donation (of any size) to honor Éliane, I have set up a special Paypal account and dedicated bank account to receive funds. Please email me at ewpmemorial@comcast.net if you need my address and are planning to send a check. I will transfer whatever donations have been submitted on August 20th, 2010. All donations will receive confirmation and receipt from the orphanage.

Thanks!


photos used with permission from The Instituto Oscar Scarpetta Orejuela

13 comments:

Stephanie said...

This is really nice, Anne.

Cheryl Nichols said...

Thank you Anne.

Rick said...

You are a great friend, a wonderful writer and I am proud to know you. Congrats on being the wonderfully well-rounded person, mother and wife that you are.

Anonymous said...

I saw your post about 3 weeks ago and thought and thought some more over whether or not I wanted to add to it. In the end as we see, I chose to err add to it. I knew Eliane' when or while she was living in LA or Santa Monica to be exact. I met her in January of 2003. Our relationship got off to a funny start because I worked for the ISP that provided internet service to WTP. She could be abrasive and yeah she could be short with people but for me that was a high point! I liked the fact that here was this teeny tiny person who didn't mind sending back a meal when it wasn't to her satisfaction. We shared many hours gabbing about how we both wanted to move (back) to the Pacific Northwest and how "alien" we felt living in LA. I do know that she missed her father and that she was in a constant state of depression. I also know that she some times questioned why she did the things that she did. She could also make a mean cranberry and vodka martini. The last email between the two of us was her recipe for C&V. I helped pack her apartment prior to the trip east and drove her to LAX. Heck I was even with her when she received word that she had been hired for the last job that she would hold in LA and spent hours with her when she self-sabotaged the job by asking for more money than what was agreed upon. I asked her to stay in LA and we thought about how our lives would be (like) if we moved together to Seattle rather than her moving. I wished that she stayed in LA but understood that she needed to get out of this city or state. Her memory'll stay with me for the rest of my life - AND my wife and I decided what better way to remember her then by giving our daughter the middle name of Eliane' I forgot to mention how I would toss out a phrase in english and how she would translate it to German. Good Golly Ms. Molly was the funniest!

ASBloom said...

Anonymous,
Thanks so much for posting this about Éliane. She would be so touched by the fact that you are honoring her name through your daughter. That's really a lovely thing to do. She would have turned 40 in a few weeks. It's nice to connect with the other folks out there who knew her well and miss her. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Not a problem (my name is Tony) and you're right, our birthdays are 2 days apart, funny how time has a way of sneaking up on you. I only wish that she would have reached out to me if things were going not so good in NY. Thank you got responding to my blurb but I wanted you to know that there was yet another someone out there who was thinking and/or missing Éliane. I forgot to mention that the day we went to LAX she gave me (I had no choice really!) 20 ink pens wrapped in a rubber band. She didn't want to "just throw them away." Such the funny gal...

Anonymous said...

How did Eliane die? What happened to her?

ASBloom said...

Were you a friend, Anonymous? Please send me a private message if you'd like to discuss more...

Anonymous said...

I met Eliane when she was living in West Los Angeles in almost 10 years ago. We became friends for about 8 months. When I met her she was looking for employment and at the same time she was considering moving out of LA.

Anonymous said...

How can I send a private message?

ASBloom said...

Send it to me at asbloom [at] seattlesundries.com

Eddie said...

I have just learned of this. I met Eliane in NYC last year. We had dinner with a group of others a few times and had discussed the possibility of a relationship but I felt I wasn't well enough at the time for dating. I was thinking of the both of us instead of doing the typical guy thing. Then I thought she left town. She was such an intelligent and lovely girl. I'm heartbroken. Can anyone fill me in on what happened and where she is now? My email is eddtoro at aol dot com. So sad.

Mark said...

I knew Eliane briefly in Seattle @ 6 years ago and she used to frequent the video store I worked in on Capitol Hill. I recently came across a cantaloupe spoon she gave me and began to wonder how to get back in touch. Then I found this this a.m. - what a shock. What happened?