Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Una manito

When I was a kid, like all the kids, I dreamt of being a super hero like Superman, Batman or Spiderman, just to help people.  Well, now I can say, perhaps for many exaggerating, that I met a team of heroes with very extraordinary powers such as joy, desire, determination, tenacity, with 10-week time limit of work to support our partner organization.

My team is Urban Agriculture, working with families producing vegetables in greenhouses in the high altitudes of El Alto. I can say that each of these families need a little hand, as we say in Bolivia, and knowing our society it is hard to find a helping hand without expectations of anything in return.

El Alto is a tough and difficult reality, even depressing I could say. I'm surprised to see the volunteers that put such an effort and even the weather or the long journey that we have to make to get to families does not stop them. The work is not simple, what is more, it is exhausting! But when I feel really tired, I have a look at the volunteers who continue to work and that's great! And at the end of the day they finish the day as they started, with a smile. I suppose that comes from the satisfaction from having given a hand.

The time I've been part of this team has been outstanding. The gratification of supporting families and sharing with them does not compare with anything. They have so much to say and to teach us. Lots of people judge people from El Alto as ignorant or as people without aspirations. Now I can safely say that it is not like that. They just need a hand and it is more than enough to support them to accomplish their goals. Just one visit is enough to make them realize what they have planned what they have achieved so far.

Volunteers give the support needed by families and they also learn. Our work is more practical: to construct or prepare a vegetable patch, to prepare the soil for the greenhouse, to sow, also to give workshops to empower women. I’ve seen this change in my mother already. She knows her rights, she changed her perspective and now she is working on her goal of having organic vegetables business and commercializing further.  The same happens with her fellow producers. Each one of them has their own goals, not dreams. I believe it is because of the volunteers and the hand they give them.

Also, the children receive training on nutrition and it is very important in El Alto as the majority of children there suffer from malnutrition. The volunteers organize the workshops with puppets, organize the theater and fun games. They make children learn and enjoy themselves at the same time. But what is more important, with the time the progress is clearly seen.

I have also undergone many changes.  My perspective on life changed, and now I know that I can support my community and for that I do not need a super hero coat, or extraordinary powers, or much money to make changes. Everything is the desire to give a little hand and for this reason I classify volunteers from before, from today, and those that are to come, as super heroes. Without a super hero coat or special powers they are super heroes just because of their desire to help.

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