We were asked to paint a mural at the children’s centre called “Centro de Amor y Amistad”. From the selection we gave them, Joanna and her family chose a Noah’s Ark design. We have been there a few times and it is almost finished. Probably the largest wall we have painted to date. There are about 110 children who go there every day to do their homework and have a healthy snack. Everyday we get asked 110 times by the children with huge smiles, “Estan pintando?”… Are you painting? You can see the progress in the photos below.
Our work in the Youth rehabilitation centre is building momentum. The leadership are going through a process of change and we have been invited to many more meetings (as is the Bolivian way) but the work is progressing well in the drug rehab centre (CAMINO). We have been using drama and mime as a way of teaching values and opening up discussions. This is much like a church youth group or circle time, but here the education system is so different. They have no PSHE or citizenship curriculum, so it is the first time for many of them to share their problems and listen to each other. Thankfully we have been building up a great team of Bolivian volunteers who have been coming with us… And of course our secret weapon… Richard, who seems to know everyone and shakes the hand of anyone!
So for the past five weeks we have been working at CAMINO. Apparently there are two sides to this centre. One is for young people about to re-enter society and the other for those that have just come in off the streets. By accident we reported to the wrong place! They enjoyed our sessions so much that they didn’t want us to leave, so the programme has changed! Whilst we have been working here we have found out a little more about their situations…
Glue sniffing is a huge problem here in Bolivia. Children, some as young as nine, can be seen sniffing glue on the streets, in the parks and under the bridges near the river. They do this as it suppresses their feeling of hunger, cold and the sensation is described as being drunk but causes serious brain damage. It is highly addictive and leads to other drugs which are widely available. In CAMINO they go through a withdrawal program. We go in on a Thursday afternoon (and sometimes Saturdays to teach chess). It is often hard to motivate them to participate in games and drama, but once they join in they really enjoy it. We started off with simple dramas and themes based on Biblical values and now many are sharing their thoughts and feelings. Last week we gave each one a balloon to write on. We asked them to write elements of their past that they thought controlled their lives. We were surprised that some of them not only wrote about drugs and sex but also about relationships with their families that had caused deep wounds. Each one in turn burst their balloons as a sign of leaving the past and looking ahead. It’s tough work as we need to go at a slow pace and build up trust. It was also quite sad to hear that three boys had escaped recently. These were lads that we felt were making lots of progress, but now the most likely outcome is that they are back to life on the streets:(
Also had a chance this week to design our new logo. For the work that we have called ‘Transformation’. Take a look below. We have been given permission to show photos now.
Our Drama group at Belen every Wednesday continues to thrive and we had two presentations this month. One performance was successfully executed in the main plaza and another at Buenas Nuevas School. This was by far our biggest crowd to date with 500 students cheering us on for more. Both Dramas had a powerful impact. The first was based on the dangers of drugs and Aids and the second was based on the Easter message. It felt good to be involved in Schools work once again.
School drama presentation
If you would like to donate towards our work here in Bolivia please use the details below.
Account number 50163678
Thank you for your continued interest and support.