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People and land of great wealth

Por Trini Buffo (Volunteer Argentina en la Fundación UNISOL)

A volunteer trip. What to say? Who is the volunteer? According to some, a volunteer is someone who chooses to join an activity or project to give or do something for a community. I would say that it is who takes the initiative, everything else depends on many other things. In addition to what one can donate or do, one comes from afar without answers for the community and without knowing. And how did it go me?

When I started living there once, I announced that I was entering the Bolivian reality, in a tropical, fertile area, outside the city of Santa Cruz della Sierra, in the Victoria district, I was welcomed by a family that deserves to be known grace a nice witness.

For some years now, Reina and Jorge have decided to receive abandoned street children at their home. At the time, together with others, they opened the “Clara Luz” Center which today offers education and nutrition to more than 50 children.

My days, without repeating themselves, have been based on sharing with family and caring for children living in vulnerability. I tried to teach something and play with them. Sometimes I was in the local markets, in the fairs with Regina to look for food and material for the school. Other times I used to play soccer, I heard the cook's problems while we peeled the potatoes. I walked from the trolleys among the multitude, the mix of flavors, the noise of a commercial city and the silence at home thinking about the day I have lived and what will come.

One afternoon, after a long chat, Regina told me that for her the joy of penelate in life, and that in hers they were very simple. Once again I learned from her to appreciate the simple.

Mrs Ana, with a smile still desperate for her loneliness and her husband in prison, thanks me for taking care of her children, Mrs Esperanza meets in me who to tell her thoughts, I see Abel working hard to give the better to his own, Juan's jokes, Dani's tererè, listening to anecdote of Jorge's childhood, collecting fruit with José, playing volleyball with Ernesto.

Take the strave, observe. Nothing is totally new, we know, there are inequalities. We see them everywhere, but living them up close makes me look at them with different eyes. I can get into it, I begin to understand them and discover the beauty they hide.

Reina and her brothers grew up in Vallegrande. Every now and then it's in vain to work there where they still have the field, and so I went a couple of times too. For the mountains, cool area we made a long journey of land and wells. Eventually we arrived at the mud house. We immediately started using machete to cut grass, after grazing the cows, milking, feeding the chickens, searching for land, installing the bathroom, making wells, painting the doors and windows. Night fell around the fire, the "cedron" tea, blisters in the hands and the guitar to sing some zambas. I looked carefully at the local people, how they live: starting the day at dawn to sow, take the limb, harvest, walk and walk. Coca leaf and labor. Sacrifice, some money and scenery, nice scenery. After two days we returned to Santa Cruz.

Honestly, I had some difficulties. I felt the prejudice for my appearance, my socio-economic condition. I felt that they considered me useless, that I lived under a glass dome, without knowing anything about life. At other times I felt overwhelmed (not only by the climatic conditions) by the environment that was lived in the neighborhood, sometimes a bit violent and very dense, also by the problems I saw in the family and the people who worked there. In those days I felt a little down, how many things I had lost, how much I must have escaped for not having been more attentive and available. Other times it was not easy to connect with people, they are a bit introverted. In some cases the barriers were cultural, in others because they felt strange to me. Was there a distance? Many times or tempted to speak, others respect the silence with short answers. I wanted to get to know them, get to know them, but I realized that the way of bonding that I knew is not the only one and therefore it took a bit of pazineza.

By saying that it is possible to go beyond us lying down, I mean that the family allowed me to get to know them because they made me feel like one of them. Not only for giving me roof and living, they made me feel at home. They told me their story, facing obstacles, their sufferings, their response with commitment and service. They opened the doors of their life and of all the people, of their culture, which taught me the importance of knowing each other, of sharing being close to each other.

Today, when I stop to remember the days in Bolivia, I recognize things that I did not see at the time, today I understand their grandeur. Above all, today I am grateful with more awareness of the richness I have found, the humility, the generosity, the love at the roots, the love for everyday life. And most important, to continue cultivating oneself with those around us every day, the relationships we build with people.

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