The Gray Cats

Eli De Caso, in one of the episodes of her show.

Eli De Caso, in one of the episodes of her show.

In 1991, Chile was just coming out of a 30 year period of dictatorship, and the return of democracy was allowing a plethora of sociocultural changes, specially in a priorly strictly controlled media. 

“Aló Eli” (Hello Eli) became a show iconic during that time. Eli was a middle aged woman, who wanted to help people in need. 

She had a panel that consisted of a lawyer, a doctor, a psychologist, and a social worker; whom for an hour, sat in the studio answering live calls with diverse questions. The show aired every weekday in the early afternoon, the time I used to sat down to do homework in the dining room, where the small 8 inch, black and white TV sat in my house.

I was only 9 years old when a TV show aired for the first time, and it was my favorite. Only now, at thirty some years old, I realize that was not a normal thing for a 9 year old girl. I should have been watching cartoons, but I didn’t, I liked Eli’s show instead.

Among the sections of the show, I had one  that was particularly my favorite. Eli unofficially called it “Los gatos grises” (the gray cats). This segment consisted on a short 3 minute documentary about an extremely bad situation. Grandmas living in houses with dirt floor, kids with illnesses that kept them bedridden, single mothers cooking for entire neighborhoods, you name it! but they were always really bad situations where Eli always said she would contact her “gray cats” to help. 

The gray cats were anonymous people who had enough money or resources to help others (which in my tender 9 year old mind meant rich people, of course). 

Eli was like the south american version of Ellen, but 20+ years ago. Always happy, always encouraging, and always interested in simply connecting the dots, between people who truly needed help, and those who could share a little with those who had none. 

Years later I finally learned who were the gray cats, not the richest, not the poorest, not the white cats, not the black cats, simply the ones in the middle, the gray cats. 

I don’t exactly know if I liked watching that show because it was meant to be that I help others, or if I help others because of the influence of Eli and her show on my life, but I do know that today it is the last day for our campaign to help women at the border, and during these month I have only connected the dots, between people who have nothing, and the rest of us who have been saving hotel toiletries in the bathroom cabinet because we have extras of it. 

People has been reaching out to say things like “you are amazing”, or “I’m so inspired by you”, but I’m not any of that, I’m just a simple gal simply connecting the dots. 

Thank you to all of you, gray cats, who have made this campaign possible! 

Because of you we gathered:
2500 shower kits total
1350 spanish written cards
254 mini toothpaste
933 Toothbrushes/toothpaste sets
1700 shampoo
72 mini conditioners
366 mini soaps
7 full size conditioners 
8 full size body wash
14 full size shampoo
45 full size toothpaste
355 full size soaps
125 sunglasses
1000 hair gels

And additionally, we still have full-size bins of things we haven’t counted, 
such as sanitary pads, perfumes, shoelaces, medical items, hair ties, combs, baby items, wipes, deodorants, qtips, etc.

I am amazed at your generosity, and your kindness. People who grew up abused like me tend to not believe that others can be good just because.
This whole experience has been so healing to my own soul.
Thank you for that.