Sometimes it seems God has a plan, allowing us to pass tests which transform us into persons that are more compassionate and capable of loving others. That seems to be Carla's case who, through her own personal vulnerable story as a daughter of refugees, learned to feel how the others feel. Born in San Antonio, Texas, her condition was adverse. From her deprivation she learned to embrace the idea of helping the most vulnerable ones. Love, fortunately, she never lacked and now it is she who gives it.
She studied International Relations, has a very clear understanding of global crises and the manner in which everyone can generate changes. After eleven years of working for CRS, her path is filled with beautiful stories, as Carla describes it:
“a very beautiful journey, which corresponds in great measure to who I am as a person... a person very much interested in responding to the needs of the most vulnerable people.”
With affection, she tells the story of Katinga, whom she met in Africa and reminded Carla of her grandmother. When the translator explained this, she gave her some spices and referred to her as her “daughter”. Ten years later, moved, Carla still remembers her African grandmother as part of God's family. Through a CRS microfinance program, Katinga succeeded in sending her grandchildren to school because she had an income that allowed her to access markets. And that is the big difference for someone, having support and access to resources that will change one's life. For Carla, that is already a personal mission, a call from God, a privilege.
As a Latin American woman, she feels very proud of being a part of this community, because as Hispanics (in Carla's words) we are very kind, solidarisms and united people, not only because of the language but because of family values. Our own experience as migrants, or, the life in our native countries are the source of our solidarity because we know how hard it is to be a Latin American in the United States or in any part. The “American Dream” is never achieved easily.
Carla knows that the magic word is to give dignity to everyone, show them the potential that God gave them and to see everyone become the cocreator with God of a new reality.
“To be the best we can be. To live a life of peace, a life of mercy, a life of justice, a life in which we treat each other as human beings.”
That is the global impact of CRS, a combination of what is practical through the programs and Catholic teachings of the church. All is summarized in having the person's dignity at the center.
She is very much interested in advocacy because she firmly believes in social justice. Carla refers to one time when, among children, she was denied a piece of candy for “being brown.” Those experiences teach us that not everyone sees the rest as children of God... it is painful when there is a division, when we treat ourselves as “the other.”
“In CRS that does not exist. Everyone is worthy, it is something very simple, but at the same time, very difficult.”
As Hispanics in the United States, we have many voices to tell our own stories and experiences. We have initiative and creativity. Carla invites us to meet the challenge of creating awareness on how to advocate, use our voice to communicate to law makers, representatives and senators to support different programs, laws that impact human dignity and provide access to funds to support programs.
“Whether in Brownsville, at the border with Mexico or in Ghana –western Africa– to create the world that God wanted. That kingdom of God on the Earth, a borderless gospel.”
Carla Ortiz was the Regional Field Director for the CRS Southwest Regional office. Carla represented CRS senior management and she oversaw and supported the CRS Southwest team in their efforts to build awareness on global issues, education and mobilize the Catholic community in the West Region for acts of global solidarity. Carla worked from San Antonio, TX.
This month we celebrate our Hispanic heritage. Celebrate with CRS!