Then I was there, Santa Cruz aeropuerto. I was ready to meet a person from Alalay at the airport. The time said three in the morning and I was really exited. Finally I am here, I said. And then one hour past by. Three hours past. There were none who wanted to say “Bienvenidos a Bolivia” to me. But after about twenty calls showed a nice person up to drive us to our bed. Six hours after we arrived. I have to say; Viru Viru is a really boring airport.
I have been here in Santa Cruz for about two days now. I have noticed a few thing about Santa Cruz already. First, the way they speak is not so different as I expected. Second, It is very hot, and third the Bolivians don’t say too much about what you are going to do or were you are going to be. This can be frustrating, but I am starting to get used to it.
A good example is our first day here. The guy who is in charge of us told us; Yeah, now we are going to the house where the girls live.(First stage Alalay) We went and suddenly he was gone. He just told us that he was going to pick us up at three in the evening. There I was in a house full of girls that I did not know. I felt strange, but I grabbed the first change I had to talk to someone. It was a girl about thirteen years old. She needed help with some homework. I helped. We laughed a little about my misunderstandings because of the spanish. We had a great time. Suddenly a little girl came over to me. She just needed me to hold her. Care about her and listen to her. She asked me; Do you live at the street? No, I said. She said, I do. The street is my home. That is where I live. She was about 5 years old.
Today was just the same, but today we knew. The only difference was that today we went to the boys house. The boys are different. I could see even more the work of the street in them than the girls. I could see their wounds. I could feel them. Both, trough the way they spoke and their extreme need of someone to be there for them, and of course their physical wounds.
In the evening happened something I will never forget. I had my first time at the street working with the children who actually lives at the street. This is where the children who lives in Alalay comes from. This is their past, but today I saw the reality of this past. I was there sitting on the side of the road with two educators (The ones who work at the street). Then the children came out of the tunnel that runs under the road one by one. Some sniffing glue. Some with huge wounds or scars. Some teenagers and some kids. I got what you can call a shock. I knew this reality, but I had never seen it live. I turned silent. I could just watch. I could not speak. The kids did not know me so they did not speak to me either. But they were there sitting right next to me. Sniffing, joking and yelling. I could smell the dirt. I could smell the street. It was terrible.
I am hopefully going to work at the street at least once a week from now on. It is going to take time to know these children. A lot of time. Maybe in a few months they will accept me, or maybe not at all. This work is impossible, but I believe that they can change. I really do. I just have to be there for them without expecting to get anything back. This work is extremely important. Two kids left the street today because of this work. I just pray that they wont go back.
(The picture is for illustration only, from Alalay.org)