Building communities and building walls.

by Nish

The drive wasn’t as long today. We rolled into the Viloma ADP, greeted warmly by the Director and his staff. We made our way into a dimly-lit multipurpose room and sat in wooden student desks. I pulled out my trusty black notebook and pen, ready to take today’s notes from the presentation we were scheduled to hear.

A kind and gentle woman named Janet came to the front of the room. She’s a pastor and she led the devotional for us. Then, we heard presentation after presentation about the progress of the community – the security of sustainable food sources, health development, women’s empowerment. I could physically feel the joy from the progress seep into my bones and my heart started to grow wings.

From the building, we went to visit families who have cultivated their own sustainability through their long partnerships with World Vision.

We walked through the community square. Thick adobe walls painted in bright colors, hand-sculpted bricks built the walls of small shops and churches. Old textured wood hung on rusted hinges and I can’t stop finding beauty in the cracks on these walls.

 

The first family we meet greeted us with handshakes and kisses. If I had a nickel for every handshake and kiss I’ve received this week…

They show us their grape vines, their peach and orange trees. We walk through the garden where radishes and beets grow full and a single sunflower stands proud in the center of the carefully-tended dirt. Guinea pigs scurry in the brick module near the back fence and the youngest girl, Jessica, bends down to the running tap to wash her hands. Toothbrushes and toothpaste hang in a hollowed-out liter bottle from the tree branch.

It wasn’t long ago that this family struggled to eat.

Next door, an older woman greets us with her three sons, one of which is partially deaf. He signs “welcome.” The youngest gathers the small puppies running in the yard and stops to smile for a picture.

The mother of the boys shows us her sewing room, where she makes garments for people in the communities. She sews on a beautiful old machine. Her son designs clothes. Through their own productivity, they are able to sustain income for their families, and World Vision provided the training for them to do so.

My heart is soaring now.

We take the bus to visit another family in Viloma. When it rolls to a stop in front of a small dirt trail, Andrea, our translator and Bolivian staff member traveling with us, pauses to tell us the story of the family that lives in this next home.

It was a family of four to start. The Alegra family. A mother, father and two boys. A neighbor nearby came to the home and asked the Alegra’s if they wanted to adopt their daughter. If not, they were just going to abandon her – they couldn’t take care of her anymore.

Of course, they took her in as one of their own. They had two sons already and they always wanted a daughter. They found her in sweet Arminda.

We slowly exited the bus, this story embedded fresh into our skin. We walked down the dirt trail to the plank of wood that bridged the gap between the trail and the entrance to their home. After crossing, we entered the gate and stopped to look at the pigs that they have grown and cared for. World Vision helped them begin their pig farm with only two pigs. They now have at least forty. But their hard work and determination to succeed in their economical endeavors has only made it so far.

They’ve grown the number of stalls, animals, and have added a guinea pig module on their property. They raise ducks, too and geese run along the length of the stall corridor. At the very end of the outdoor animal shelters, I can see beds.

Beds underneath a tin roof and unstable siding. There are only two walls that surround the room.

This family sleeps with a roof over their head and only two walls. They don’t have a proper room built to protect them from the elements of harsh Bolivian winters.

This little girl and the incredible family that saved her life sleep in the cold. Every night.

In the morning I see vast and sweeping changes of economic and community development, thanks to the help and heart of World Vision. In the afternoon, I still see progress – but there is much left to be done.

There is still work to do.

Child sponsorship is the primary way that World Vision surrounds and builds up communities so they can thrive and take care of their own. By sponsoring a child in the Viloma community, you would be helping sweet Arminda and her family.

Maybe one day, we’ll see Arminda sleeping in a bed that is protected by four walls, and not two.

Will you partner with me? Will you reach out your hand to a Bolivian child and offer them the gift of sponsorship? You may not be able to change the world on your own. But, I promise, you can change the world of one child.

 

Sponsor a child in Bolivia today & radically improve the lives of Bolivian communities.

Sponsor in Bolivia

All photos © Amy Conner for World Vision

9 Responses to “Building communities and building walls.”

  1. Bonnie bilawsky August 4, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    Has she been sponsored?

    • Nish August 5, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

      Yep, Arminda has a sponsor.

  2. Heatherly August 5, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    Thank you for this beautiful, piercing look into their lives.

    Praying that sponsors will come out of the woodwork.

  3. Erika August 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    Joy and Nish,

    I haven’t followed your journey as regularly as I would like – we just moved to a new house and don’t have internet until Wednesday. But, what I have seen and read leaves me so glad that you both are there to represent.

    You are in my prayers still . . .

    Love,
    Erika

    • Lindsey Talerico-Hedren August 22, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

      Dear Erika, I’m catching up on the un-read comments to all our Bolivia posts. I stopped at yours because it reminded me of the very reason we embarked on this trip… to represent the deeper story of the people in Bolivia. Thanks for your support. XOXO, Lindsey

  4. Agnes August 8, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    Aw! Arminda is the little girl in the World Vision sponsor button, isn’t she? :)

  5. Brianne August 9, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    what an awesome and eye opening, heart opening journey God has been taking you on in Bolivia. thank you for all that has been shared. praying for us, God’s people, all readers here, to have our hearts and hands open to His leading, for how we can help.

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