Angeles, 3:15pm, February 18, 2001:
My goddaughter awaits her mother's arms on her baptismal day.
LOS ANGELES, February 18
I admire my friend, I know that my goddaughter will grow up proud of her
mom -- a hardworking immigrant mother and wife whos encouraged her
husband to study and is continuing her own education at night. When shes
not at her job or caring for her two daughters she sits on the board of
a non-profit organization that mentors girls in Los Angeles gangs and
organizes earthquake relief or toy drives for hospitalized children in
her native El Salvador.
Our friendship has survived seven years and many transitions. She viewed
me with suspicion when I first asked to meet her, and wore a hooded sweatshirt
and dark glasses for the occasion. Back then my friend was known as "little
devil" inspiring fear and respect among even the most macho male
members of her gang. Gradually as trust between us grew she helped me
to navigate the gang neighborhoods of Los Angeles and El Salvador knowledgeably
and therefore more safely than would otherwise have been possible.
I have rarely
taken photographs of my friend and I have never written about her before.
For a long time those were the rules we kept -- in part from a shared
sensitivity to exploitations many guises. It has helped uphold a
delicate balance of trust, respect and survival.
But today, as I watch her daughter watching her
I feel what a privilege it is having such a friend and such a beautiful
goddaughter. And I want to share the wonder of this with all the world.
Bogota, February 22>