People of Chelsea Martha Amaya Flores a.k.a. Martita – 2020

By Darlene DeVita

The following is one in a series of sneak peeks at the upcoming People of Chelsea additions by Chelsea Photographer Darlene DeVita. The new work will ultimately appear on the fence of the Chelsea Public Library (CPL) Spring of 2022 a collaboration between the People of Chelsea project and the CPL.)

“I’ve been living in Chelsea for 31 years. I came from El Salvador because of the war. It was very sad, it was a war that never ended. I saw many dead, much hunger, much misery in my country. When I left it was the last time I saw my parents alive. I didn’t return until 1995 when they told me my mother had died. It was very sad for me. I didn’t have papers. But when I returned I went to see her grave. I was 24 when I left, today I am 54.

I live alone. I came to Chelsea because a cousin advised me to come here, so I came and I have worked since then, I haven’t stopped working. I worked for 14 years with a cleaning company. Now I work for Suffolk University Police Department and Security. I’m very happy working with them. I like working with the students.

I’ve been with the Collaborative for 7 years. My friend brought me here and it was a pleasure for me. I already knew Gladys Vega, I had always wanted to work with her but I hadn’t had the opportunity. But now I have the opportunity to work with her and Roy Avellaneda. Gladys Vega deserves all respect, she deserves a golden crown, she is a motivation for the people of Chelsea. She hasn’t abandoned us during the pandemic. We have lived happy times and sad times, but she has never abandoned us. So far the food donations have been happening for five months, to try to help people survive, because this pandemic, which we were not expecting, has been very big, very sad.

The truth is, for us workers here, it is a big effort to be here because it is not easy to do two jobs. I do my job in the morning, and then I change quickly and come running over here, but I do it with a lot of love and pride for the Collaborative. I’m a volunteer. I love it.  It has become like my family. In these times, I understand that doors have closed, but they are not going to prevent me from working with these people. If we haven’t gotten sick, it is because my god is protecting us. Why? Because we are doing good work.”

I met Martita in April of 2020 while documenting the pandemic.  She was volunteering for La Colaborativa at Pan Y Cafe, and in tears because hundreds of people were in line in the cold rain waiting for food.  The truck was delayed for hours.  I chose this image (I have serious ones) because this IS Martita. Always full of joy and laughter, until someone is in need and she can’t help.  As you can see from her story life has not been easy but she praises God everyday for her what she has.  As I’ve gotten to know her we’ve cried, we danced…we laughed.  Thank you for Martita for all you do and the joy you bring to others.

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