Now and again you need to pinch yourself!
For example, when you look around the room and you realise you are surrounded by Judges and lawyers dressed in sharp suits and you are the centre of attention. No, we hadn’t broken the law, we had been invited to give an account of our work with the young offenders to the Prison Fellowship. A team of Christian Lawyers who want to make a difference in the city of Cochabamba.
I met Juana (the team leader) in 1996, on my first trip to Bolivia. She was heading up the Christian Union in those days and has since gone from strength to strength. She worked for the Government for a while and is now a trained lawyer, soon to become a restorative justice judge. She gives so much of her time helping others and trying to change a corrupt judicial system across the whole of Bolivia. The meeting was not something we would have chosen to speak at, but our Bolivian friends seem have a way of getting us involved! The meeting was a great success even though the intimidation element made us struggle with our spanish. In 2016 we maybe taking a few lawyers with us to see what happens in the youth prison at grass roots level.
This is a link to a Youtube video of the work they already are doing in other parts of Bolivia. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sv5k7MCj28
Our time at COMETA has been eventful to say the least. Last Sunday whilst visiting the lads I was attacked by a dog. The dog had been there for sometime, and we had given it a wide berth. But without warning it launched itself out of the shadows and sunk it’s teeth into my arm and leg. The shock was like being hit by a baseball bat! After a few seconds of disbelief reality hit home, when I realised how many diseases a bite like that could cause. Not our best moment at COMETA. (We miss the NHS… )
Fortunately the wound was treated fairly quickly and the large dose of antibiotics should scare off any nasties.
It’s so easy to get discouraged when things like this happen as we feel our work is going so well at the moment. We have been impressing the girls with our cooking skills each Wednesday and teaching them about household budgeting and hospitality. We continue to teach the boys Biblical values and self esteem through our weekly drama sessions.
We now know all 90 boys by name and have developed some great relationships. Recently at the end of each session we have been able spend time chatting with them about their feelings, future and spiritual growth. One lad wanted to know how he could have a relationship with God and asked about local churches when he receives his freedom. Freedom and God sound like a great combination to me. These young people are starting to feel like family, and even though it’s great to see some of them leave it’s also difficult to let them go.
Community is a great part of being here in Bolivia, you don’t have to try that hard to feel loved or a part of a group. There are no age limitations and very often you will find 30-40 year olds attending youth evenings. This is great for me- being in my early 30’s!! There are many church groups that we are now very much a part of. One such group are the Brazilians. We have been friends with Rodrigo for some years now and he leads a church of 200+ Brazilian medical students here in Cochabamba. Unfortunately they have a bit a reputation of being a closed group and not integrating with their Bolivian neighbours. One of our latest challenges was to run a seminar on servanthood for the 20 leaders of Rodrigo’s church… nice easy one! This was an excellent opportunity to practice our Spanish and develop deeper relationships. We split leaders into groups and used drama to break the ice. We also discussed practical ways in which they could serve their community, putting Biblical truths into practice. The evening was a great success. The pastor lead by example by serving us all with huge amounts of pizza – I think he did all the clearing up as well. Little by little…!
As Christmas is fast approaching we are putting together gifts and essentials for the young people we work with. As many do not have parents to visit them, we will be sharing this task with the local volunteers and churches that support the work here in Cochabamba. We are hoping to finish before our visa runs out on the 4th December.
Our next blog will be coming to you from Mexico!
1 John 3:17
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
1 Juan 3:17
Si alguien que posee bienes materiales ve que su hermano está pasando necesidad, y no tiene compasión de él, ¿cómo se puede decir que el amor de Dios habita en él?
Thanks for all your support and interest in our work… If you would like to make a donation towards christmas presents for the young people in COMETA (youth rehab centre) and Mosoj Yan (support home for sexually abused girls) please use the bank details below, which is specifically for this purpose.
Barclays Bank Mr D J Such. Sort Code 20-39-07. Account number 50163678
Postal address. Casilla 15. Cochabamba. Bolivia. South America
Please take a look at the following link. We are now very proud to be ambassadors for Serve Abroad…