I was so proud of our girls today as we loaded the van up to the max, somehow all of us being able to squeeze into the small space allotted us as the majority of the room was being used up by the many black garbage bags full of clothes to donate, and headed off to Quillacollo.
I was so glad that everyone was in good spirits because we were very close on this trip!
There’s been little press outside of Bolivia regarding the terrible flooding and landslides we’ve been experiencing here, in fact I wasn’t able to find anything in the English press about our area, only the landslides in La Paz. I digress… Quillacollo is a small city outside of the main city of Cochabamba, and in the lower valley regions, they have had terrible flooding these past months, with many families watching their homes crumble before their eyes.
This is one of thousands of homes that have been destroyed by the severe flooding
Our girls have been watching on the news and reading in the papers about what’s been going on so close to home, and they wanted to do something about it. So they all went through their clothes and took out the things that they weren’t really using and chose to give them to the kids they saw who had nothing.
As we drove further down into the valley and started to see the damage that was done by the floods, you could see the faces of the girls get more somber and the tone in the van changed from silly girls playing around to a solemn quiet as the news became reality to them.
There is not supposed to be a lake there, that is someone’s yard underwater and that
rubble in the foreground used to be their home. This was a common sight throughout the area.
Here you can clearly see where the flooding used to reach, leaving the homes that were still standing
completely uninhabitable because of the water damage. The stagnant water still in the streets is full of garbage
and smelled like driving through a latrine. It was heartbreaking to see a girl standing in this, essentially sewer water, in only her sandals.
We came to one of the community tents where we were able to donate the clothes and be sure that they would be distributed equitably. When we pulled in, the people whose turn it was to prepare the communal meals were astonished that these girls from a children’s home had come to help them. There was pure joy all around as the girls were so happy to be able to do something tangible to help these people in need, and the people were all smiles as they saw these ‘poor orphan girls’ take bag after bag of clothes out of the van.
All of the girls were eager to participate, even down to some of our littlest ones!
Our girls were visibly affected by this experience, some of them snuggling close to a tia because they were sad about what they were seeing, others took some space to contemplate all that they were experiencing.
One of our foundational goals is for our children to not develop a victim complex or a sense of entitlement just because they don’t live with their biological parents. Selfless acts like these help develop that character and open their eyes to the reality that there are many people living in and through much more difficult circumstances than theirs, but also that they can use their own personal losses, traumas and difficult pasts to be able to show empathy to others who are hurting in a way that others might not be able to truly understand.
Our girls and staff along with some of the community members who’ve lost their homes and are living in the tents like the one seen in the background.
How awesome to hear the girls planning how they could help two other communities that were also affected- I love that our girls are learning how to be compassionate, empathetic and generous! Our girls have been so blessed to have Christ’s love for them be physically demonstrated through the daily work that our staff and volunteers do, along with the numerous teams that have visited over the years. It was so rewarding and encouraging to see them be able to then turn around and be that bodily representation of Christ’s love and compassion for others whom are in greater need than they are.