Last night we said “ciao ciao” to Tía Kate. As sad as everyone was to say goodbye, it was also a celebration of the memories and laughter we have shared with our wonderfully vivacious and dedicated volunteer. The past week has been a tumult of emotions as Kate’s time in Bolivia came to a close.
Over the weekend, Kate and I led our last exercise session for the girls together, and it was our largest group yet. Two months ago when Kate began volunteering with Niños Con Valor, she initiated a fitness program for the older girls. Many of the girls have embraced this new activity with enthusiasm—joining us for Saturday morning runs in the park and evening exercises with music twice a week. The previous Saturday we starred in a movie about healthy living habits that a local group was filming in the park.
In conjunction with her “despedida” (going away party), Kate and I presented our vision for the fitness program, which will take form under my watch this coming year. I feel fortunate for the opportunity to bring this dream to fruition and to introduce the girls to a passion of mine: running. Running—and exercising in general—is uncommon in Bolivia, unless trying to escape a pack of dogs. But the girls have been very open-minded and seem to look forward to this physical and emotional outlet.
Sunday, the girls spent the afternoon walking and chatting through the park to Plaza Cala Cala for ice cream. Like the rest of Cochabamba, the plaza is totally decked out for Christmas. The girls took turns riding my bike—which was too big for most of them!
When we returned to Corazón, shrieks of glee filled the courtyard. The tías and younger girls were crowded beneath the freshly hung mistletoe, and one-year old Catalina was taking her first steps! This was a magical end to Kate’s second-to-last day with the girls.
Keep in touch, Kate, we will miss you!