Storytime with Cherry Fajardo
A good story has a magical way of unveiling patterns and connections. Much like the experience of tracking, nose to the ground, knees in the mud. They are sneaky, trickster-like, showing up unexpectedly with simple wisdom you didn’t even know you needed. As for the story-teller, they often have the under-valued gift of using words to nurture connection.
On a call with Cherry Fajardo one springtime morning, the expectation was to meet her and to learn more about her involvement with Gaia. What she offered instead was the story of her authentic self. Woven into her words was a strong emphasis on self-awareness, community, and reciprocity. As her story unfolded, there was a strong feeling that this is what it means to be Gaia.
Cherry’s connection with Gaia Passages began with a search for an organization that could develop her child’s self-awareness. To Cherry, self-awareness is of the utmost importance: “The only way to show up fully in the world is to know who you are … and you are constantly changing as a human being so you need to take the time to know who you are all the time.” As a caregiver, and a human with a strong connection with self, Cherry wants to pass this skill on to her child. When she stumbled upon Gaia Passages she knew that this was the place for her child:
“Nature connection is not just activities out in nature. Connection to nature is something you experience, something spiritual. There is a part of us we don’t see that just connects. [The emphasis on] that element attracted me to Gaia Passages.”
As Cherry attended caregiver evenings, fundraiser events, and began to connect with members of the organization, she felt the warmth and sense of community that was so important to her upbringing in the Philippines. “Community is so important in the development of a child, stays there forever, such a great legacy.” Raised within a network of aunties, uncles, and elders, she wanted the same for her child:
“Every time I look at [Gaia Passages], I think that every one my daughter interacts with is an extension of my parenting. I am raising another human who was given to me and I have a responsibility to guide her. I have a responsibility to make sure that I actually find the right people that I can work with to give her that love and support and everything that she needs so that she can also find herself in this world.”
Eventually, Cherry was asked to offer her gifts and join the organization as a Board Member. Having worked many years in finance, she was able to share her knowledge and advise the growing organization on financial matters: “For me, the honor was really mine to be able to serve at that level.” Though Cherry is no longer serving on the Board, she looks forward to a time when she may be able to weave back in and support the work we do at Gaia Passages.
Cherry is an individual who holds strong values and has a clear connection with self and nature. Though Cherry was not a participant in Gaia Passages programs in her youth, she is a human who embodies the values and goals that we offer to the kids in our programs. May her story ripple through the Gaia community!