Previous placements in earlier volunteer programmes tended to focus on one particular subject. Be endangered animals, construction of facilities, teaching orphans, etc. Our present involvement in Emerging Voices reflects the myriad causes championed by Monica Sepulveda, the organizing force and shining light behind the program. EV is relatively new to the scene, having emerged from
nothing less than a calling to Monica. Lori and I have been here for nearly a week and have yet to be exposed to the full gamut of social services that are under her aegis.
Street Life in the City Center
This afternoon we returned to and taught English to children from one of Cartagena’s most decrepit barrios.
Aside from teenage girls walking the streets, babies on their shoulders, the stores are open although the facades remain secured behind a locked grate. To purchase merchandise a customer requests the product which is then handed to them through the grate once the money has been given to the merchant. While at first blush, this may sound awkward, consider the savings in window dressing, zero pilferage, and return policies. If you happen to be walking down 5th Avenue and you see this model being utilized at Bergdorf-Goodman, you will be one of the few who knew the source of this new marketing initiative.
This morning we visited a senior’s residence to share in the pre Xmas festivities, which we rapidly became part of. Perspiring like a teenager about to ask a girl to the prom, I sat in a puddle on my plastic chair while the elders salsa’d, bosa nova’d , and cha-cha’d without raising so much as a bead of sweat.
Naturally, the missus and I joined into the action and before long my dance card was filled with a plethora of senior senoras looking to cut a proverbial rug with the white boy from the Great North. Lori was rapidly implicated into the show and before long all the vows were shaking up the joint.
In addition, yesterday featured a visit to the beach. Not as simple as it sounds. Two buses from Bogota travelled to Cartagena. Again, the poorest of the poor. Thirty-five children and a bunch of parents. We did not find out until later, but they are staying in town for much of the week to play in a few soccer matches with some local kids. But the amazing story behind the story is as follows:
What was to be a 24 hour bus trip along less than super highways turned into a 36 hour ordeal as one
of the buses experienced mechanical failure. Which is a polite way to say that it caught fire. No deaths or injuries. Upon arrival at the hotel, the children were very excited; not as much for the
upcoming soccer matches but rather because none of them had ever seen a swimming pool, let alone an ocean. We stocked up on some munchables and drove the hour to get to the beach. To be able to
witness the looks in the eyes of the boys and girls, not to mention their parents, experiencing so much new is an unforgettable reward.
To have participate in a day that will likely be one of very few life highlights they will ever have provides immeasurable satisfaction.
In an attempt to keep this year’s postings manageable in length, I am trying to minimize content. So I will not, in this post, mention the work being done with children with cancer, a rehab center for
addicted teens, and another education center at Santa Maria. Yet.