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How Bolivia Taught me Another Rhythm of Life

By Marco Bevilacqua

I have spent almost three months as a volunteer at La Casa de los Niños, and although in the beginning, it wasn’t easy, I can finally say that it was an incredible experience that has given me more than I thought.

Before traveling to Bolivia, I did not have expectations, only the desire to discover another world, another way of living life, and perhaps I was tired of the way of living in the West that seemed so strange to me.

When I arrived, I was a bit scared, but at the same time, I had a lot of trust in my capabilities, sure that things would be fine. With luck, I was picked up by Gianluca, the person responsible for the school in the community, a very energetic and happy person who, from the beginning helped me settle in the community. When I arrived in the community, the children were very welcoming and curious to know who I was, and where I came from, and it was easy to start playing with them, fortunately, I didn’t need a high level of language to do this, and so I started.

During my experience of living in Aristide and Tania’s house, with six children and three volunteers who helped me a lot to live the experience well, visiting the country together and reflecting on what was happening to us.

Of course that living with other people, and above all children, is not easy, but, once I got used to it, it was wonderful sharing with them every moment of the day, and I started to see that my time was not only mine but that I started sharing everything with the children at the house, playing, talking, watching movies, just simply spending time in their company.

This was a life lesson: at first, I didn’t understand the way to organize the day, without plans, without rush, and on my own, but little by little I started to understand that I had to change my perspective about time and the rhythm of life; only changing myself, I was able to enjoy those moments.

My daily life was going to the community school in the morning and organizing workshops for the children in the late afternoon. At school, I taught music lessons and helped with the disabled boys and girls, a wonderful and very fun experience.

I believe that the hardest thing was getting used to different food and the rhythm of life: above all, the e rhythm of life was very different, and with the mentality that we Europeans have, that we always know what we have to do in a situation, adjusting was not easy. No one told me what I had to do, there simply wasn’t anything in particular to do, or in a precise manner, we could all propose something, and this was very strange at first, and I needed time, patience, and a little bit of letting myself go to internalize it.

I have learned some things that I will take with me forever: the importance of listening to whatever children say, the importance of having patience and understanding that behind a problem there is something that one does not know, and the importance of living every moment without thinking about the future. Also, sometimes we think that not knowing the language or culture is a problem, but you only need to open up, let yourself go, and sometimes play, and you overcome everything. The differences or the difficulties are overcome if you become like the children: simple and happy.

In the end, it was a great experience, not easy, but important for my life, that taught me a lot of things that perhaps I never would have learned in Italy, my comfort zone.

Perhaps what I have given to the children was not much, but there is not a problem in this sense, because an hour is enough, a smile, the simple presence of a person to be with them is enough, that is a lot, because what for us a little, perhaps for others is a lot

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