A big reason for the long hours was due to prep for Kids Day, which is today! I've been in several different countries on April 12 and it's always huge for the kids, although it seems to pass by without notice in the US? So anyway, as part of the leadership team of the young people at Cochabamba International Church (CIC), we decided to visit the woman's jail and take a program for the children living there with their mothers. Luis, a lawyer and current leader of the young people at CIC, has contacts "inside" (and I also know the social workers, thanks to him), so he arranged all the details. Juan Jose and I worked more on gathering and sorting donations and all of those details. A Christian radio requested donations of clothes and toys, and how people responded!
This is my dear car packed to the gills with donations:
Saturday night after our service we were very grateful for all the willing hands to help sort clothes for 125 children. It was a huge, huge project that was nearly overwhelming, but amazingly once we got going, it just took 1 1/2 hours to get clothes sorted into boy/girl/adult and mas o menos by sizes.
We lugged huge bags full of clothes all over. From Viva Bolivia's office - my car - church - church office - storage room - two different cars - to jail entrance - to be sorted through by police - to inside the salon - to another place inside the salon. Ugh, no wonder my legs and arms are still sore!
And here's where this post does have something to do with YOU, our donors. This suitcase that Saul, actually guitarist on my praise team at CIC, is unpacking was our contribution to the outreach:
Elena, Casa de Amor II volunteer, helped me out by gathering all the clothes that are too big for our current children. Many times when people write me offering donations, I mention that if we are unable to use something, it will be passed on to a worthy cause in Bolivia. The clothes that we had to donate were BEAUTIFUL and much of it brand new.
Then our afternoon in jail went well. I was in charge of the sound system and setting it up - yeah, that would be a first! - but amazingly it went well and Tia Eli's group from church did a good job giving the kids a good time in a tight, hot space. It was my first time in the woman's jail, but it was very similar to other jails for men that I've been in in Cochabamba. Sorry that there are no pictures, but obviously they are not permitted and even if they were I couldn't post them here. Let me just say that in a place that might be fit for 50 or 60 people to live, 188 woman are packed in like sardines. As if that weren't bad enough, they have 207 children amongst them, ages newborn to 12. A good percentage of those children live in children's homes or outside, but approximately 80 are full time at the jail. While it's nice that they can be with their mothers, the living conditions are rotten.
I was able to talk with the mother of a group of three siblings at the Baby Home, ex-street. Although I was glad for the opportunity, it was so hard to not just sit her down and share that her three beautiful, much loved children live with me. It was heartbreaking to realize again how young she is, how beautiful...and so sad and defeated by life. However I know that much has been sown into her in previous years, and I can only pray that she can somehow recall that truth and seek God to start life anew. We also hope that she doesn't return to their father, who as rumor has it, will be released from another jail soon.
PS - Some pictures from a special delivery this evening for Dia del Nino, thanks to the triplet's godmother Nataly!