Everybody has a Story.......Meet Melida!

This is the second article in our weekly series of 'real life' stories from members of our community, which carry with them messages of hope, encouragement, success and overcoming life's challenges.


We hope that YOU will enjoy reading them and that they will touch YOUr heart as deeply as they have touched ours.



For me two realities exist right now. 

On one hand a plague is ravishing the world,

at stake is humankind. 


On the other hand an equally powerful, 

yet positive force is evolving and spreading …wildly. 

We are reminded that we humans should be, 

could be, are in fact inherently kind.  


Why is this so important NOW? 


Because one force must conquer the other. 

One must move faster than the other. 

One must spread wider than the other. 

Otherwise the other will prevail. 


The Virus vs Viral Acts of Kindness. 


If we are kind we will think of others before we think of ourselves.

If we are kind we will respect what we are told.

If we are kind we will come out of this with less loss and less pain.

If we are kind we will save others and by default, save our own-selves


This is what I want to tell my sweet daughter, the children in my family, my former students…Everyone. 


It all stems from this…. 


My name is Melida and this is my story...........

I grew up in Guatemala, which they call The Land of Eternal Spring, because the weather is so mild. I grew up in this lush environment seeing gorgeous flowers, and gorgeous tapestries, women on looms, making beautiful things, with colorful threads and fabric.


And then one day my dad said to us ‘we need to move to America. The political climate was getting really bad, and so was the work situation in Guatemala. My dad was a CPA at the time, and he was having a hard time finding work.


Luckily my grandfather was a tailor and my dad learned how to make tailored suits and shirts and all sorts of things, so that got us by.

My mom grew up in a small-town and she could sew her own dresses, so they would both do these odd little jobs, on the sewing machine. For a few months before we moved to America, my dad made teddy bears. We got by.


Shortly after my dad left, six or eight months later we followed, once he had sent enough money for us to buy our visas. We took a Greyhound bus. It took five days to get from Guatemala to New York City.


I was seven when we arrived here in 1979.

I knew very little English, one sentence, “May I go to the bathroom?”

My parents knew very little too.


It was such a culture shock to come from a land where everything is so green and lush, to see so many grey buildings. When you arrive in New York City you can't see the horizon. There's no horizon.


There was always this intense sense of loss.


We moved to a tiny tiny apartment with my cousins. It was a two bedroom, and my cousins were still living there. Eventually my uncle left the apartment to us, because he saw that it was going to be hard for us.


That was the beginning of some very small, very tiny, not well-kept apartments. We struggled to find decent places to live. Part of it was the money and second, it was discrimination.


It's really important to mention that it's hard enough to find something, a place to live, because of the money issue. Then, even when you can leave, you’re denied certain things because of your race, your class or your ethnicity.


We would call for apartments, I don't have a Spanish accent but my mom has a heavy accent. The only way that we could even get an interview, was by me calling. We discovered that if she called she was denied but, if I called we were given an interview. Sometimes though, when we arrived and they saw that we were Latin Americans, they would be like ‘Errrrrr, yeah. No’.


Some people were nice and they did rent to us. We took what we could .

They weren't the best things.



When we lived in Guatemala as much as we struggled that last year before we left, we were pretty ok, we weren’t rich or well off but we were comfortable.


There's a lot of poverty in Guatamala. I would see children walking barefoot selling Chiclets, selling tree nuts or whatever it was that they were selling. Orphans. Homeless children.


It felt like we were the lucky ones.


We had a home. My dad had a really good job. We felt rich in a way. And then we moved here and it all completely flips, like upside down. It's like ‘oh no’ what just happened. Now we’re the poor ones. We’re the deprived ones. We’re the invisible ones.

I often felt that I was ‘less than’.



Walking home from school one day, the boy who lived next door, who’s name was Patrick. I'll never forget that name, because that will forever be the name of the boy that spat in my face, for no reason, except that I was Hispanic. Calling me a spic and spitting in my face. I have never felt so small, so disgusted.


I went home and I showered and I felt so dirty by having his saliva on my face. The worst part was that I couldn’t tell my parents. Because with my dad working, he was working literally 80 hours a week. My mother was struggling so hard, she had to be a single mom almost, you know holding everything together. All the worry, balancing the money that he would give her. And our mental and emotional state. How could I possibly bring this to them too?


Not everyone was that way though. In my life I’ve held onto to the beautiful and inviting people that I’ve met. Some I don’t remember their names but their bright faces. Some it was their sweet disposition that made all the difference…... a landlord, a superintendent of a building, a teacher, a person in front of me at the check out counter..... countless others and it all matters. It’s all here in my brain. In my heart, all of it.


I lived in a very very loving home with my parents and I have great memories. My dad always made me feel like I was the smartest little girl in the world. And my mom was this completely, utterly spiritual person. No matter what we went through my mum would say “it's okay, we are not alone”. We had prayer.



Later I got married and that was not a loving home. Thankfully I knew enough about love by that point, I was able to love myself out of it. Out of that relationship


Honestly, and it was not easy. I had to start again. Living in the worst places all over again, as a single mom. And I was discriminated against in that scenario then too, as an adult, with all the degrees and education that I have.


Because I love myself, I allowed myself enough space to re-learn who I was in that scenario, and only then was I able to find someone else who truly truly loves me.


Fast forward…..


It would be a sin not to mention my husband now, because the way that my dad loved me and cheered for me, he is exactly like that. I feel that I can be who I am and do the things that I do because I have so much room, so much love to do that.


I appreciate that so much. When we love each other and other people love us, we are able to find situations and people that will in turn multiply.



Today I work for a company called Cara Squared. I am the marketing and media relations director for this affordable housing company. I work with my sister who introduced me to the job and their mission: “Everyone deserves the opportunity to live in a place that is aesthetically beautiful, affordable and structurally sound.”


The Company is not driven by money or capitalism. 

Its focus is doing good for the community. 

I feel like all the paths I’ve taken have lead me to my life’s purpose - which is this. Providing hope, advocating for others and yes facilitating the purchasing of affordable housing. 

I can totally relate to the moms, the dads, the senior citizens, the ones who are struggling to be in a better place. I know what it's like to be on the other side of things and appreciate the value of a place that is well maintained by people who actually care. 

 I am grateful for being able to use my artistic and communication skills

for the greater good. 


 I’ve learned to use my talents and to give them away. 

I’m happy to do that. I need to do that. 



Things became more clear to me when, standing outside at open houses and literally taking people by the hand, inviting them in, so that they could view the properties ... they would say “this is not for me - this is for rich folks“, “ I don’t want to get my hopes up“, “I can’t. I just can’t" The truth is - it was, it is  - for them, it is possible, there is hope. I know first hand the complexities involved in assimilation and at times feeling like an outsider. I know what it is to be under appreciated, but I also know first hand about tenacity, resilience and perseverance. More than anything I know the value of a kind word, a kind gesture and the power behind hope.  I believe it is important to show up for others, because it allows us enough space and time, to not be so inside our own selves. I feel like I have to be empty in order to be filled. Every time that I give what is good of myself, put it out there, there's more room for more goodness to come to me. There’s this ebb and flow to things. There is balance.  When we take and we put back.  When we are there for others and equally there for ourselves.  Back and forth.  Through this whole corona virus thing I have noticed that, kindness can be viral too. And that self love and the love of others is so crucial right now, it's the one thing that is going to save us.  It’s the few thing we can control now… Staying Home.  Staying Still.  And above all else… Being Kind.   Melida x


This story is written in Melida's words as transcribed from an interview between herself and The Editor, March 2020. This story has been edited, reformatted and abbreviated from the original interview transcription.


Melida is an artist and a writer.

She uses her art as a means to express herself and her life stories.

Check out Melida's blog at www.melidarodas.com and on

Instagram @77lightfotofilm @carasquared

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