Published: July 18th 2008July 16th 2008
So much for a 7am wakeup call, I was awake by 5:30am!! Luckily though I was able to fall back to sleep until about 7:30. No showering in the morning, we get too hot and dirty during the day. So I save my cold shower for after a day of work when it feels refreshing and I can go to dinner nice and clean.
The day began with breakfast - cereal and a banana, and then we made our lunches. Peanut butter and jelly!! Every day, all week, that will be my lunch. But no worries, I love PB & J!! I made two sandwiches because I figured I would be pretty hungry by lunchtime. And I was right!! Starved by lunch, but I will get to that later.
Before our departure to the village, we gathered for a prayer circle in the courtyard. This will be a morning ritual every day, with a Reflection in the chapel following dinner in the evenings. Yes, I am the only Jew in the group! Which makes sense considering that this is a Catholic Mission trip. :)
Then we hopped into the vans to head to Las Delicias. On the ride
over, we learned a little more about the conditions of the country. There are approximately 75000 street children, who beg for money or juggle, or wash windows to earn tips. The public transportation here is former US school buses that were sent down after failing to pass inspection in the States. At the local hospitals, each doctor sees about 90 patients per day, and the infirmed are responsible for getting their own medication. Nurses will administer meds, but someone in the family must go out and purchase whatever the patient needs.
I was unsure of what to expect when we arrived in the village. I have seen poor conditions in the past so I knew nothing would really surprise me. What I did not expect to see was abundance of trash all over the ground, as the village does not have a system of waste disposal. The families will just pile their trash and burn it, leaving the remains. I also learned that the village receives a supply of water on a limited basis. Some families get their water every eight days, others every three days. Conditions which are quite unfamiliar to us back in the US.
children in the village attend school either in the morning or the afternoon. Those who go to the afternoon sessions will come to the church in the morning to work with the volunteers. We played games, sang songs, did the Electric Slide, the Hokey Pokey, and Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Part of our purpose is to teach the children some English, so I worked on colors with a small group. Other volunteers focused on geography, math, and arts and crafts.
After a little while the older children needed a change of pace, so we took them to the soccer field and basketball courts. The kids are adorable, so friendly and loving and interested in learning about us. Since a lot of our volunteers do not speak Spanish, I was helping to translate for them. With a little help and effort, a lot of them are now able to communicate with the children using basic vocabulary and visuals. They are really excited about it too!! so cool.
One little boy, Wilber, was telling us how he no longer has the bike that the mission group had given him. Apparently his mother hocked it to buy a bottle of
whiskey. Wilber and his sister have been living with their aunt as she is a much better caregiver than their mother, as apparent by the bike incident.
I had the opportunity to do a home visit in the afternoon, which was really nice and eye opening. We spent about 20 minutes sitting with a family at their house, while they shared a little about their living conditions and lifestyle. The mother told us that they receive water every three days, which is quite an improvement from before, where they only got water every 23 days...
Back to the volunteer house for a shower and dinner, some time on the computer, and a short Relflection ceremony in the chapel, where we shared some of the challenges we are facing an what we hope to accomplish during this trip.
Bedtime late for me tonight - after 12am!! And wake-up time still set for 7am....
There are more photos below