There are some people who make an immediate impression on you when you first meet. Alejandra Alvarez was one such person. A long time Seva staff member who guided the development of programs in Mayan communities of Mexico and Guatemala from 1984 to 2006, Alejandra worked diligently to advocate for healthy communities until her last week of life in February.
Anyone who crossed paths with Alejandra could feel her passion for justice and her determination to ensure that communities obtained the resources they deserved. She was a fierce proponent of education of all kinds literacy, community organizing, health care service provision. Her loss is felt by her family and hangs heavily over the many communities and lives she touched in her four decades of tireless community service.
Alejandra was drawn into community work by instinct as much as philosophy. A Seva friend reflected that "Alejandra was a great warrior. She did not sit silently in the face of injustice. She got pissed, she cried and wailed and most importantly, she took it on, to try her best to lessen inequity. Alejandra stepped up. She put her pedal to the metal and rode the buses, walked the many miles, stood in line for hours to speak with petty bureaucrats because this was what needed doing."
Alejandra forged trusting and long lasting relationships with Mayan communities upon which Seva builds today. The community eye clinics and outreach programs of Guatemala-based Seva partner Visualiza Clínica Médica Oftalmológica drew from her inspiration. Over the years, Visualiza has expanded its sight saving services into Mayan communities of over 6 million people. More than 25,000 people have received sight restoring cataract surgery through these programs.
Upon learning of Alejandra's recent passing, Visualiza team members remembered her as someone who was very special and who was always kind. Alejandra was a determined woman and she held her regard and worry for Mayan communities at the forefront of her work. She expressed her relentless commitment to the empowerment of the people. She believed in the development of the Mayan people and their power to succeed. Above all else, she is remembered for her heart.
The Seva community fondly remembers Alejandra Alvarez as a woman who tirelessly lived her spirit of service.