posted by Judy Gray, with information from Brita and Bob Park
Though I never met Victorino, those who were part of World Neighbours Canada in its early days did meet both Victorino and his wife, Senia. It is clear that he left an indelible impression on those people and clearly embodied the philosophy of World Neighbours Canada. Here are some further reminiscences, from Brita Park, a former Director on the Board:
“Victorino spent several days with us in our log house during the early 1990’s when he was banned from speaking at a Rotary Int’l event in Yakima, Washington. His annual income was considered too low, for him not to be a statistical risk of “defecting” to the US. Bob and I remember how Victorino patted the side of our old loghouse while telling us: “Love lives here” . And how, while hiking in our hills, he took some of the sandy soil and some of the clay into his hands to rub it and evaluate it for growing quality.
And we remember Victorino remarking on how good it is to see children, like our two, so healthy and energetic that they can be rambunctious. (I, in the meantime, was rather embarrassed that they were misbehaving in the presence of a guest.)
I remember, too, the great discussions we had — for example, how Victorino remarked that in Honduras there was too much passive acceptance of ” fate”, and attributing people’s dire situations to divine punishment for sin, whereas here in Canada everything was considered ” fixable” by human ingenuity, with no need to do any soul searching on how we might be needing to reconnect with community and nature as a response to the gift of creation. All this kind of talk was in a garbled “spanglish” that served us well enough, since we felt we were kindred spirits. And he had that smile!
Graem Nelson, a World Neighbours Canada director once told me that he felt he had so much to learn from this minimally schooled man from another ” world”. Bob and I felt the same way. By the way … Victorino earned his Secondary School diploma at age 24, already the father of several children at the time.
One of our sons, who visited us recently, and learned of Victorino’s death, reminisced about his memory of Victorino: “that friendly man with the permanent baseball cap on his head, except when he plunked it on the floor beside his chair at mealtimes.”
The vitality of Victorino is so strong in our memories. Bob and I remember going to Victorino’s and Senia’s home, in 2003, where he went to the backyard to butcher a chicken for our meal, and then came to show us his study, with a computer, and, most importantly, the super encyclopedia two of the founding World Neighbours directors had given his family. Several of his children were also there; each on a path to good education, it seemed to us. For Bob and me, Victorino personified what the word ” good leadership” should mean.
I’m sitting here with tears for the loss of this wonderful person. Just think of his family, and his community! “