Service Begins!

Monday, November 6

Rested, refreshed (especially those of us who were confounded by how to get the showers to heat up) we piled into two mini-buses and headed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Day Care, a part of Chalice’s Fatima site. Located in the northern region of Cochabamba, water scarcity is a major issue. We could see the landscape turn brown and dry as we wound our way up into the community.

But, needless to say, well-springs of life and joy abound in the daycare. Approximately 60 children, ages 1 to 4, greeted us with their national anthem and a song they had prepared especially for us. And then the teacher announced everyone’s favourite time, “hug time!” It was moving to see the work and care that the children and their teachers had put into preparing our special welcome.

Just like that, it was time for the children to go to their activities and for us volunteers to roll up our sleeves and start working. The dental team moved to a different location to begin their set up, and most of the team set to work washing down children’s desks and furniture. One volunteer reflected later that he was about suggest “well let’s just grab the hose and wash these down,” when he remembered that this area had only gotten rain a handful of times this year. The things we take for granted.

Mid-way through the morning, the children received a snack of fruit. Watermelon! There, officially, may not be anything cuter than Bolivian youngsters chowing down on juicy, sticky watermelon.

We joined a large team of volunteers and translators for an excellent lunch prepared by the daycare’s kitchen staff, and set to work again.
In the afternoon, much of the team cleared the children’s playing field of large stones and what we later discovered was leftover pieces of a playground (we would never have guessed that’s what the heap of scraps was!), and then evened out the field so it would be safe to run around. One group took to white-washing the wall that forms the front entrance of the school, as a base coat for a mural we’ll also be painting. One volunteer reflected that it was in that moment that she understood solidarity: dawning blue smocks and masks alongside several mothers who had also come to help, at once they were united with a small mission they could do with great love. It was a day to understand patience, charity, and the value of a little humour in the face of frustrations. At the end of the day, we met and prayed together for the people we had met today and in thanksgiving for our new understandings. Teased by the promise of surprises to come on Tuesday with the Chalice sponsored elders at Kasa Wasa, we fell into bed ready to dream about the day ahead.