Today, I was talking to Senora about Operation Luna. We gave her all of the bags for the shelter in Tijuana back in December, yet she hasn’t had a chance to deliver them, and we have been worried about the possibility of having the bags confiscated at the border. So, today we talked about other organizations that already bring donations to Tijuana to bring our materials with them as well. Senora told me that she has a date set for Spring Break to either bring the bags on her own, or if she hears back from the organizations, she will give the donations to them instead. Either way, I will just be happy for the victims of the hurricane to receive the donations and have to worry slightly less about their feminine hygiene problems. Honestly, looking back, I cannot believe how far this project has come. I had no idea we would have so much success, and that we would be able to extend the project to a global issue. I have learned to take pride in my actions, yet at the same time be modest and be okay with making a difference without seeing the change, so the benefit is purely for others and no self-reward. I have tried to be more selfless and to continue to uphold my values or caring for and helping others.
After months of waiting, we were finally able to get our project back up and running. Bella contacted WTLC and scheduled a distribution for yesterday, March 4th, so we made a plan to pack everything that we had sitting around. So, on Friday, we all met at Michelle’s house to pack the bags and take the tampons out, as this shelter does not accept tampons, to repackage the bags, and put everything into the pink Operation Luna bags. After an hour or two, I had to take my younger brother home from practice and Michelle had to go to her lacrosse practice, so we left, and Bella finished putting the last few bags together. The next day, everyone met at my house, and we transferred the products to my car, then I drove to Santa Ana. Because the location was secret, as many of the women have been abused, I was worried about the safety and finding the exact place, so we got there extra early to be safe, and we ended up needing the time to find it. I finally noticed a building that looked like it had multiple rooms and was behind gates, so we took our chances. The entire distribution only took a few minutes, as they seemed like they did not want us to go inside, so we just handed off all of the bags. Although it would have been rewarding to see the women receive the supplies and be able to talk to them, I am just glad we were able to help them. It is important to do service not for personal gain, but just knowing that you are making a difference in another’s life.
About a week ago, Michelle, Bella, and I met Tracy, Stacy, and Chelsea at Don Jose’s to celebrate out success. Throughout the evening, we told them about all of our successes and troubles, and all of our future plans. We talked about possibly handing over the project to another IB junior to continue next year, and we could come back and help, as it would be hard to continue in college. It was great to be able to celebrate all of our success so far, and to hear advice from them. They told us to experience and live everything while we can, and to enjoy every moment.
Today Bella and I went to drop off the finished bags at Senora’s house. Yesterday, Bella stopped by Michelle’s house to pick up extra bags, as we were about 20 totes short from the ones we had already gotten from Michelle’s. I left a little before 1230 in the Yukon, then had to stop for gas on my way, and went to pick up Bella. On the way to Senora’s, Bella put the last few Ziploc bags in the totes. When we got to her house, we unloaded everything, then talked to Senora about the Tijuana shelter. She and Karly, the connection we met at the “Dia de Los Muertos” plan on going next Wednesday, yet Senora mentioned that Karly has not been consistent with meetings, so they may have to reschedule. We would have loved to go, yet Senora talked to the principal and they concluded it would be best if students did not go.
In the past week, Michelle has scheduled a new fundraiser at Harmony Tea Bar, as we are very low on funds and need more money to buy the pads and tampons for our next distribution. In addition, we have been dealing with all of the trouble from alltimetrading. This has definitely taught me to look more into the company reviews before purchasing, even though their website seemed trustworthy and they had a great deal. We received the package of socks, and Michelle added them to the bags, yet we got a call on Friday at school that the package of underwear got lost in the mail. At this point we were trying to decide if we should try to find another company with underwear for a cheap price, if we should just order less underwear, or if we should just not get underwear, because we had to get the packages to our Spanish teacher as soon as possible so she can get it to the shelter in Tijuana. Listening to Michelle call various companies everyday has helped me to feel more comfortable calling and to step out of my comfort zone. I don’t like fighting or arguments, so I try to handle and disagreements as professionally as possible.
Then, because Michelle is going to be in Oregon for 2 weeks, I went with my dad after my alumni game on Saturday, December 17th to pick everything up from Michelle’s. We carried all of the boxes out to the car, and we ended up filling both his and my car fully to get everything back home. After carrying all the boxes out to our cars, then into my house, we spent a little over an hour. Then, once we got home, my dad didn’t want everything in our house, as it was already full with holiday items, we packed everything into our Yukon. And that night, Michelle texted that the underwear finally came!
So, Bella picked up the underwear from her house, then came over to my house today, the 20th, and we camped out in front of my house and took all the boxes out of the Yukon and set up another assembly line. She stuffed 2 pairs of underwear into the large ziploc bags with the socks, pads, and tampons, and since Michelle had separated the liquids from the bigger ziploc bags into smaller bags, so that nothing would spill, I then placed both ziploc bags into one of our pink Operation Luna bags and packed it into boxes. It took a few times to figure out which format would fit the most bags into the boxes, yet after a few times, found the most efficient way. In the end, I had to grab an extra reusable bag as all the bags could not fit back into the boxes. After 2 hours of working, we finished and packed everything bag into the Yukon. It was so nice to sit out front with all of the Christmas lights packing and to enjoy ourselves. With all of the recent troubles, I have seen how this project has lead to so much more planning and collaboration than expected. I am so glad now that I was in charge of finances, as I see the work my partners are doing, and I think everyone is in the perfect spot. Michelle has been great with communicating and organizing events and posting to social media. For me, it feels a bit uncomfortable to ask for money, even though it is for others, so I am glad she can phrase it perfectly and I can help her whenever she needs it. Also, Bella has a strong voice and has done well with finding partners. We have had to react to so many complications, and plan picking up supplies and planning distributions, and coordinating with so many people. Individually, we would not be able to do this project alone, yet together, we have been able to get so much more done and accomplish so much!
We are also communicating with senora Martinez, and we are planning on dropping the bags off at her house on Thursday so she can take them to the shelter. Everything is finally falling in place!
In the past couple of weeks, we have come across a few difficulties. As I mentioned earlier, we decided to send 120 bags to the shelter in Tijuana to help victims of Hurricane Matthew. As I talked to my Spanish teacher, Senora Martinez, who connected us with the shelter and is going to deliver our products, told us they are in desperate need for socks and underwear as well. So, we decided to switch from 150 to 120 bags for the shelter to provide quality over quantity. After researching and finding the best deal, for 240 socks and underwear form alltimetrading.com, I placed the order. We were supposed to get the order December 5th, yet it didn’t come. Then, they told us we would get the order Monday, December 12th, and it didn’t come. I have been with Michelle as she called almost daily, and they kept putting it off, saying it still processing or finding new excuses. Then, we our current english teacher Ms. Sheridan found bad reviews online with many reports that our similar to our experience, and we were terrified we had lost $300. In one of the calls, they said they would refund our shipping price, yet in the next, another person said they couldn’t and they would never promise that. Today, we finally got the socks delivered to Michelle’s house, yet the underwear have not shipped.
Today, I spent 35 minutes writing my “About Me” section for our new website on weebly.com that Michelle created:
As Michelle and I have been working, I have found that we haven’t had any updates form Bella about emails. We never sent a thank you or an update to Assistance League, haven’t been in contact with Mariposa or any other sites for distributions, with the woman from the OC Business journal, or responded to our partners at Barney and Barney. So, today I asked Bella if she had done any of these tasks, and she hadn’t. In class, she quickly sent an email to Assistance League and to Barney and Barney, yet I feel bad all the emails are so late. Also, with the slow progress in this area, we haven’t been able to plan our next distribution. Also, I realized that the OC Business Journal requires a paid account to access the articles, so we won’t be able to see if she published an article about us. Behind distant for so long, and falling behind in these roles could cause us to lose some of our relationships we have made, and lose the respect of some we have worked with. This is one difficulty in collaboration, as we have to rely on eachother, and when one falls behind it can hurt the entire group.