Father Christmas Of Fusion

By Rosemary Grayson

Agustin and Peggy PeasleeFor Augustine Alvarez, December is hectic. Count in the other 11 months too—since for some 719 souls in San Juan Cosala, he is their all-year-round Father Christmas. Mexican American fusion is the secret of success for his menu at Viva Mexico. Yet this same brand of fusion is the secret of success for San Juan’s most innovative charity ‘Operation Feed.’ Many men can be shy admitting to fatherhood. Augustine (48) is proud to reveal that he fathered this infant good cause by adoption eight years ago.

Two North-American couples came to him with their struggling protégé, on the strength of his poverty action man’s reputation. It was hard to dig down. Augustine admitted guilt on this count plus many others to be taken into consideration. The notable good deed, which far from going unpunished endeared him to a much greater audience than friends and family. He set up shelters for the homeless in the aftermath of the shock mudslides of 2007. At the time, Augustine was working as a waiter with eyes on the prize as manager at Mama Chuy’s restaurant in tandem with construction jobs in 1993, when Richard Sullivan walked in. Mr. Sullivan, fluent in German, French and Spanish offered Augustine a passport. It was English lessons which the American gave without asking a peso, yet on one condition. Augustine must pass on this gift to the youngsters of his home town, San Juan Cosala.

And so Augustine cleaned up. Literally. He taught his 400 strong army of little pupils on the job English during weekly work scouring the littered streets. Kindly shopkeepers fed and watered the kids free of charge. A 17-year-old Mexican, Senor Villa, won three gold medals in this year’s national cycle race, one of four youngsters a few years ago whom Augustine sponsored through free lifts first to Guadalajara, throughout Jalisco, then Colima, Michoacán to compete in their early days.

Well tooled-up, with his burgeoning English, restaurant training, construction know-how, plus his Aunt Lupita’s cooking, in 1999, they launched Viva Mexico, to a more than appreciative audience. For these citizens had long memories of Augustine’s community support plus later as savior from the nightmare flood.

Now with the help of many “angels,” as he calls them, the infant Operation Feed is flourishing, newly under the chairmanship of Carol Curtis. Many hands make light work packing the budget-priced grain from a generous Jocotepec family business to feed 90 families. The romantically named, Mexican Maringa Madres, help tend the 18 trees in the community garden on land, courtesy of Augustine and friends.  The leaves bring in 100 peso a kilo from over the border. Gardening, plus other work, like plant pot sculpture offers the novelty of a peer group team, plus the chance to earn tokens. It’s Operation Feed’s new currency. Mothers ‘buy’ token store goods for the family.

New comic relief just waddled in during this interview: a flock of ducks. They supply eggs and entertainment, in a pen apart from serried ranks of vigorous vegetables. Now that’s fluffy fusion. Viva Mexico Tia Lupita

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