Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rosa Tan CoChien's lasting legacy


Oneida Hernandez of the El Porvenir staff stands beside El Poseron's new well.

During our trip around Nicaragua with the sustainable development groupEl Porvenir, we were happy to be able to visit the project that our friend and fellow-parishioner, Harvey CoChien, had made possible in honor of his recently deceased mother. In the tiny village of El Poseron, eighty people enjoy potable water, lavanderos, latrines and a budding nursery in memory of Rosa Tan CoChien.


The well is located a short hike uphill from the community.


The builders -- community members with a minimum of professional help -- had scratched the completion date on the enclosure.


Oneida displayed the plaque that will be mounted at the site.


Freddy, our Nicaraguan translator, tried to pass along to the local people the words that that Liz Specht read out about Rosa Tan CoChien's life.

Harvey's mother and father were both first generation immigrants from China to the Philippines. Rosa Tan CoChien, his mother, was the second child in a family of 11 children, the oldest daughter. She was educated through high school and wanted to go to college, but her mother insisted on her marriage. At the age of 16, she was married to Harvey's father who was 17 at the time. It was an arranged marriage, though Rosa was actually very opposed to this tradition. Rosa knew it was too early to marry and wanted more of an education. Before her marriage, as a traditional daughter, she made all the clothes for her family and did beautiful embroidery on the linens. She also worked in the family candle-making business packing candles.

Her greatest regret was not being able to pursue a higher education. She instilled in each of her 8 children (5 boys and 3 girls) the value of going on to college (or beyond) -- and each has done so. She encouraged them regardless of their gender. She would say, "I'm going to send you to school if you want to go, whether you're a girl or a boy."

As Harvey was growing up, she made the family home an open one. There was always something to feed a guest and Harvey felt free to bring home a classmate or friend. She understood poor people and taught generosity by her own example. That's how she taught her children, by example more than words.

From her own savings, she bought real estate and stock. She was very good at making wise investments and possessed a sharp business sense combined with solid common sense. All her criteria were down to earth. For instance, she could see that a certain plot of farm land would be in a prime business location as roads developed and the city expanded. She bought it and later sold it for a very good profit.

Harvey had hoped to join the trip to see the improvements he had been able to finance as a memorial to Rosa but was unable to join us.


People listened intently to Rosa's story -- this gentleman was the diviner who had pointed out the location at which to dig the well.


Community members and El Porvenir staff joined together for a picture with the well and plaque.


And then we all trudged down the hill to see the miracle of new water in action.

2 comments:

Jane R said...

What a wonderful people-to-people action. Memory is a powerful energizer. And hurrah for running water!

And this is a great way to honor one's parent(s) with a lasting legacy.

Ellie said...

I am so happy to learn of this legacy to my grandmother.

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