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Volunteering in Santa Cruz Bolivia...

sunny 30 °C

After a long and very uncomfortable busride we finally arrived in Santa Cruz Bolivia. We were not really sure of the climate, but we were longing for some heat after a long time in cold weather. Directly we got a chock, it was well over 30 degrees 17pm...and this was winter time. Wonder how it is in the summer.

We took into some decent hotel while we were looking for a place to stay for a long time. Though a flat would be much cheaper, we decided that it would be too much hassel to sort out everything (e.g. we have to have internet). In the end we found this great hotel close to the center, best rooms so far this trip, nice communal areas, even a small garden, swiming pool, and free Internet, all for 100Bolivianos (around 11Euro).

Santa Cruz is definately different from rest of Bolivia. Both the city and the people seem much more modern, more westernised I suppose....for example it´s quite common to see girls whos boobs are not 100% a natural. Also the food was surprising...we were expecting to live on dried fried chicken served with rice and some miserable looking frenchfries (no sauce, but ketchup if you are lucky). Anyway, there are tons of international cuisin, we went to a great sushi place, we found mexican, italian food etc. Also the Bolivian food here are much more varied for example they have both beef and pork here.

After resting up and getting sorted in Santa Cruz it was finally time to go volunteering in Luz del Mundo. Basically it is a day center for children with only one parent, usually the mom. This allows the partent to go working, and allows older brothers and sisters to go to school. The kids are between 2 and 15 years old and all come from very poor families in the poorest area of Santa Cruz, Plan 3000.

I had seen pictures of Plan 3000 on internet, so I was actually expecting it to be even worse. Still it´s pretty poor, dirt roads, various farm animals, garbage everywhere, sewage water that does not go anywhere. We ended up getting very lost and after asking taxidrivers and police for 30minutes, we gave up and called Gabriella the lady that runs Luz del Mundo. After passing some streethorses eating garbage in the roundabout, we found the center.

The center is actually in a realativily good quality brickhouse. However, what I reacted on was how small the area was for so many kids. There are around 20-30kids on normal days and up to double on Saturdays. There were 5 other volunteers there when we arrived, however, 3 of them would be leaving after a week. Gabriella who runs the center is not really part of the day to day activities, except that she prepares a snack for the kids and lunch once a week. Other then that it is up to the volunteers to organise everything without any instructions what so ever. While this can be good, it is difficult to know where to start really. The other volunteers had been there for at least one month each and had not managed to organise anything at all (they did one geography “class” with 5-6 kids participating).

We did not want to be too pushy so the first week we sort of just did what they did. Still it was so great to hang out and play with the kids. They are very used to new volunteers coming so many started hugging you and holding hands with you the first day. The kids are supercute and any doubts that we had if this was the right place to be was gone after the first day. We see that there are great potential for us to really organise things and try to make a lasting impact in these kids lives.

Henrik and the kidz

Henrik and the kidz

Kidz on the slide again

Kidz on the slide again

Laura with one of the indigenous families

Laura with one of the indigenous families

Good knows how we managed to get camera shy Alvero to pose for a photo

Good knows how we managed to get camera shy Alvero to pose for a photo

Gabriella is almost as shy as her brother Alvaro

Gabriella is almost as shy as her brother Alvaro

Little John showing off his masterpiece

Little John showing off his masterpiece

His sister Maite....this little girl is just too darn cute

His sister Maite....this little girl is just too darn cute

Many of the kids have American name...this cute little girl is named Brittney

Many of the kids have American name...this cute little girl is named Brittney

The sisters Francine and Brittney playing on the swings

The sisters Francine and Brittney playing on the swings

The only one posing more than Laura...she managed to sneak into every photo with a perfect pose

The only one posing more than Laura...she managed to sneak into every photo with a perfect pose

Aragon the flea infested dog

Aragon the flea infested dog

Posted by hmontonen 18:15 Archived in Bolivia

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