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Knowing Others, Discovering Oneself. My Experience with Faithful Fools.

Max with his parents, Heidi and Max Sr.

I can remember me being a 13-year-old child walking around the streets in my little hometown in Managua, or that we call in Spanish “el barrio,” which means towns or areas of the city that probably aren’t the safest or best places to live. But this time it wasn’t a common walk: I was not going to school, going to the store, taking the bus or playing on the streets. I was walking with a different purpose: to discover my own neighborhood.

The reason? I was participating in the first street retreat in Managua led by Faithful Fools, an organization in which my parents used to participate in motivated by a sense of communitarian service, so I felt motivated too. That day some of the Fools had come from the U.S. to participate too, so they were trying to experience and come to know about life in the “barrio."

Little Max with Fools, Melissa & Elise, in Managua in 2008

Understanding a different country, culture, or living style is maybe a common thing we try to do in our lives. But, how about trying to understand our own living circumstances? I think it was one of my first challenges in life. I had a different perspective about my town, my neighborhood and poverty. I discovered places that I never imagined existed. Why do we live like that? Do we realize the way we are living as a community? What should we do to change our reality? Although I didn’t have the right answers for those questions at that moment, I felt motivated since then to look for them.

After the retreat we shared time together as a community. We had time for dancing, singing traditional songs, and sharing interesting things about our cultures or life experience. That was my first experience with the Fools and I had the opportunity to meet some of them like Kathryn, Damian, Alex, Sam, Susana and others who continue coming almost every year to share time with us in the barrio.

Max's first dinner in San Francisco with Fools Alejandra and Carmen

Sixteen years later I am here, sharing time with the Fools at the Tenderloin in San Francisco. After being a political prisoner in my country due to my Human Rights and pro-Liberty activism, I was expatriated by the government and sent on a plane to the U.S. The Fools welcomed me with open arms.

Seeing for myself the work the Fools do in San Francisco has been impressive for me. I had the opportunity to listen to their stories of the Tenderloin but now I can see it and experience it with my own eyes. Just a few days after I came to San Francisco I participated in a street retreat in the Tenderloin “shadowing” a group of high school kids. Seeing Silena and Leah share in the meditation with such a commitment touched me.

This last experience with the Fools has been something different, but not strange. That’s because since the first retreat in Managua many years ago, I considered myself a fool from another country. The universal value of humanity has no barriers and we become conscious of that when we try to discover ourselves and what we have in common with others, or as the Fools say, “our common humanity”.


Join Faithful Fools' 25th anniversary event #FoolsFest: Livin’ Out Loud on April 1st to celebrate in community and enjoy performances by local artists and special guests. Details and tickets at:

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