The road from Calera to Mizque. Just amazing clouds and scenery!
Two girls from Calera showing their new dolls! All the children were very excited to receive toys!
Parachute games with the children of Calera.
Friends helping each other put on their candy necklaces.
The students of Calera dancing to welcome us. It was absolutely beautiful!

One of the best experiences of my life. A trip that puts everything into perspective. Families with a lack of food and resources, but full of love, generosity, and life. Roads of dirt and rocks, but beautiful scenery. Clear blue skies full of surreal clouds.

We set off from Cochabamba on Monday morning for the province of Mizque. Driving through the mountains was absolutely incredible–views of the small communities above and below, waterfalls and beautiful green valleys. We arrived and had a delicious lunch–Pique–a traditional Bolivian dish of meat and potatoes, tomatoes and onions, topped off with ketchup, mayo, and mustard. Then, we spent the rest of the afternoon planning and organizing everything for the next day. After moving and packing boxes full of toys and bags full of food, we headed to the river to relax and put our feet in the cool, calming waters. The river was absolutely beautiful!

Tuesday was a busy day: breakfast, serving snack and lunch to the local teachers who attended a medical workshop done by Marcelo, the doctor working with Ninos con Valor. Dr. Marcelo discussed the importance of washing hands and how to promote and maintain a healthy, positive environment, especially for kids. After lunch, Evelin began her workshop (taller in Spanish) about teaching tactics and positive care for students. She emphasized the importance of love and respect when working with kids. As Evelin explained, students should respect professors, however, at the same time, professors need to have love and patience, respect and sensitivity when working with kids. Many children do not receive love from parents and siblings, and school should be a place in which any student can find support, love, and understanding people. I helped Evelin with her taller–passed out papers and supplies, as well as performed in the puppet show. It was very interesting to participate in the workshop, considering the human aspect of a student is not always taken into consideration here. I think Evelin’s workshop was extremely helpful, and many of the teachers learned creative ways to teach and motivate their students.

Wednesday was our last day, and personally my favorite! After breakfast, we headed to Calera, a small community outside the town of Mizque on top of a mountain. When we arrived, the students in the school danced for us. After their performance, we began painting the faces of the kids and Marcelo saw people from the community who needed medical assistance. The children of Calera were very shy, but warmed up as time passed. Evelin shared a few Quechua phrases with me because it was obvious that may of the children were more comfortable speaking and hearing Quechua. After face painting and candy, we did activities with a parachute, which the kids had a great time as we ducked under, ran under, and put balls on the parachute. Before we left, we passed out toys to the girls, boys and babies, and bags of food to the families and to the school. It was an incredible experience!

I will never forget the excitement the children had during the parachute activities and in line to receive a toy. I will never forget how thankful many of the men and women were for the food and toys for the community. I will never forget the school teacher who is trying to educate the children of the community and helped organize everything–what an inspirational woman. I will never forget the appreciation and kindness we received. I will never forget the beautiful faces of the children.