Saturday, October 2, 2010

An interesting concept - along the lines of a barn raising but with cash instead

Not long ago we encountered a cultural tradition that we weren't familiar with: a vaquita.
vaquita f Colecta de dinero organizada por un grupo de personas para afrontar un gasto en común
Translated: an organized collection of money by a group of people to jointly pay for expenses.

A friend of a friend recently passed the test to become a construction manager (it's a licensed and titled position here). His mom decided he needed a new truck befitting his position so she called friends and family back in their home town and they provided a vaquita: the funds for Alejandro to buy a new, instead of a used, truck.

Isn't it funny how once you're aware of something, you keep coming across it?

This week one of my Spanish assignments was to read an article about Sofía Roldán Cativa, a young Argentine violinist who is making waves around the world with her remarkable ability. She's won awards, played in orchestras throughout Europe and Russia and is currently a student at a prestigious school in Germany. Her family didn't even have the money to buy bus tickets so they could all see her off at the airport in Buenos Aires -- she said goodbye to her mother and sister in her home town and then her dad took her to the airport. Each year she has to come back to Argentina and find another scholarship in order to continue her studies.

But back to my point about vaquitas... When Sofía was only 14 she had the chance to travel to Europe for the first time to play in an orchestra but the finances for such a trip were well beyond the means of her family. That's when friends stepped in to help, pooling their money so she could go.

In America we are used to the concept of barn raisings or collecting money for a sick child (those ubiquitous jars with photos on store counters everywhere). Americans are known for their generosity around the world, usually supplying the bulk of donations for disaster relief and originating ideas for programs like Make A Wish Foundation. As missionaries we are able to do what we do because many, many give, and give EVERY SINGLE MONTH. And I could totally see a community rallying 'round a young girl like Sofía who has such talent and just needs a little help to achieve her dreams.

But so someone can have a new truck?

It makes me wonder: would we be willing to help a good friend or family member buy a new truck (or a computer, an expensive tool... whatever) if we thought it would help them be more successful? Something to think about this weekend.


Mari said...

That's really interesting. Like you said, I can see some of the examples but I don't know about a new truck!

junglewife said...

That IS very interesting! But it does make me wonder... are there any strings attached on the other side? For instance, if the guy with the truck becomes more successful at his job, is he then expected to "share the wealth" with his family and friends? I know, very cynical of me, but that's how it works in the culture where we live.

If someone gets a raise, they are expected to "share" their extra money with their family... to the point where friends of ours have had their worker tell them "don't give me a raise - I don't want to have extra money that my family comes looking for!" If someone dies in your family, the whole community chips in for several days to several weeks, mourning and providing food for the entire group who is mourning, but in return, there is an expectation that you will then give food and money when someone else's family member dies. It sounds like a good way to work things, but it really puts a huge strain on the entire community - there are so many people who come to mourn (it's almost like providing a service) and so much food that needs to be provided, that it's a huge burden on everyone. Anyway, that's a long enough comment so I'll shut up now :-)

skoots1mom said...

vaquita for your plane trip home to the wedding ;)

The Bug said...

It's a great concept to me - but in my circle of friends I think it would be like everyone giving $5 for every birthday at work - why doesn't everyone just keep their $5? Now, in a community where something special is happening that would be different - not everyone needs a new truck.

JonMagic said...

I think we kind of did that for grandma's iPad. We thought it would improve her quality of life. It was kind of a big gamble, but she absolutely loves it. Now we just need to rally and get her a case :)

Debbie said...

i have to say that I don't think many folks would pitch in for a new truck. It is fascinating where we draw the line, isn't it?

rita said...

A little cow, eh? Does that come from the dowry concept ;)
Jon, Grandma just carries the Ipad in the box. That works fine.
Someone today wanted to know where you got it.

SmallTownRunner said...

I think that giving so that someone has something they need or that can improve their quality of life is a great idea... as long as the recipient is not the kind of person who squanders money and continually makes poor financial choices and sponges off of others. That's the only line I draw.