Walking 33 Kilometers through Roadblocks and Riots
A 22 year-old woman, Vanesa (name changed), is part of our children’s outreach story. She recently graduated from the public university in Cochabamba with her degree in psychology and she volunteers full-time as the youngest group of children’s teacher plus she individually works with, counsels and gives special attention to some of our more troubled children, one-on-one. She does this for a love gift, from our outreach, of only 100 dollars per month. Our outreach does not yet have enough financial resource to pay even one legal salary, a minimum wage one, to anybody. To be able to do so is something we are praying toward and working toward. Vanesa is one of 9 brothers and sisters who were raised partly in the Chapare region of Bolivia and partly in the rural town of Tarata, outside of the city of Cochabamba. When she was a child she suffered a challenging life. When she was only 8 her mom and her dad split up. She was raised in extreme poverty, spoke and heard mostly Quechua in the home, suffered hunger, hardship, lack of love, neglect at times, and knew only limited Spanish. When she got to the age of 18 she decided she was going to go to university and graduate with a (free, in Bolivia) college degree, no matter what. She found herself in huge conflict with her dad because he did not want her to major in psychology, because he didn’t think it would make her enough money after she graduated. When she insisted on majoring in psychology he withdrew all financial support from her and threw her out of his home. She continued studying on her own. She lived on her own. Sometimes she didn’t have food to eat. About a year into her studies at the university, one of her psychology courses required her to do a practicum, and the university sent her to our children’s outreach, which had just started up, to do the practicum. That’s how she met my friend, the director. The two women became good friends and my friend helped Vanesa to learn more Spanish, to learn more about grammar and writing and the manners and ways of a large city and university. It was through and with my friend and our children, of the outreach, that Vanesa also came to faith in Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior! From then on, there was no stopping Vanesa. She worked more and more with the children of the outreach, doing her university studies at the same time, and growing and being discipled in Christ Jesus with the strong and almost daily help of my friend the director. Vanesa was now part of the outreach family. She still had almost no money, ever. Two times, she didn’t even have enough money for her bus fare from our outreach center to her tiny rented room far out on the other side of Cochabamba, past the oil refinery, and so, she walked the whole way, taking three and a half hours to arrive home! Another time, when there were roadblocks and riots, she walked all the way to Tarata, 33 kilometers, to take some food to her younger sister who was stuck on the other side of the road blocks. Two months ago, Vanesa graduated from university. Even though our outreach cannot pay her a real salary, she is teaching and counseling and helping with the children more than full-time, at our center, and has recently started an additional diploma program in physical education, at the university, to enhance her ongoing education and future curricula vitae. She plans to keep on being a part of the children’s outreach family, and says it is her very own real family.