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Mercè in Bolivia: "These trips bring you back to reality".

Mercè in Bolivia: "These trips bring you back to reality".

Mercè in the Bolivian project with young people with disabilities. 

Many people believe that solidarity trips are “youth” things. Or that volunteering with children with disabilities "is too hard." Mercè had the courage, desire and solidarity to face these obstacles. At the age of 55, he collaborated through Tumaini with the Comprehensive Therapy Center for children with disabilities in Bolivia. Your assessment? “These trips bring you back to reality.” Don't miss his interview!

Why did you want to do such a trip? 

There have been many changes in my life. I lost my sister who dedicated herself body and soul to children with disabilities, and I think it was unconsciously a way to be close to her.

Was there anything that surprised you in the project?

The little help they receive and how united they are with the boys and girls. There is very good vibes in the air, although the work they do does not allow them to lower their guard.

During the Mercè workshop in the Bolivia project. 

What disability did the boys and girls with whom you collaborated have?

They all had intellectual disabilities: down syndrome, autism, etc.

What relationship did you have with the coordinators and other people in the project?

People were very affectionate with me. Apparently I gave them a lot of joy and energy! The luck is that the first and last days coincided with holidays: a competition of school music bands and the day of the student. That last day, they took the opportunity to give me a small farewell. The children gave me a placemat and a postcard made by them and I think I have never received so many kisses and hugs at a job, even moms from other classes came up! It was all very emotional.

The director of the center is a very special woman. As soon as I met her she adopted me! It seemed to me that I had always been with themI have a wonderful memory.

In addition, since I arrived very early in the center to avoid traffic jams, I was almost the first to arrive and I made friends with the cleaning lady, who said goodbye to me with a "I'm going to miss you art" 🙂 He ate me with hugs and kisses, it was very endearing!

The reception of the young people was very affectionate. 

Do you think that the boys and girls are happy to have volunteers in the center?

I think so, they received me wonderfully and in my class there were two who brought me flowers every morning, they were very amused that I put them in my hair and I had to calculate carefully who I was sitting next to because it was a mess : everyone wanted me to be by their side! 

When the class ended each day they asked “will you be with us tomorrow?”. And when I told them yes it was a riot.

Can you tell us about any memories you have of the boys and girls?

There was a boy who spoke very softly (he was autistic) and when he was able to make the first cardboard ball for the necklace he was very happy and kissed my head. Apparently, he did that when he was happy, I received many kisses from Mauricio, who was called that!

You did a workshop, what did it consist of?

I proposed it, I wore a necklace made with cardboard and cloth. I saw on the project website that they used to do workshops on recycled paper and sewing. I proposed to join the two workshops, the necklaces were a success!

What has this trip meant to you? What have you learned?

We already have an age and I have passed them in many colors, but these trips bring you back to reality. Bolivia is a tough country if everything goes well for you. If you also have a creature with problems, I won't even tell you! These children are lucky to have fallen into a project like this, with teachers who give them a lot of care and love, apart from education.

The weekend that I was able to do some tourism I went to Sucre, Potosí and Uyuni. Potosí left me marked, I had the opportunity to speak with a lady who works as a "pallina" in the mines... and lives a tremendous reality. She was a widow and had her daughter who worked guarding the mine, with several small children and also a widow. Tremendous!

Do you think that special training is needed to collaborate in this NGO?

Always and in any circumstance, the more training the better because there are many children with different grades. I could not have been in other classes precisely due to lack of training, but... they put me in the workshop and I was like a fish in water, very confident and eager. The teacher was very kind to me and made everything very easy for me. I think the really important thing was to be able to get along with them, for them to gain confidence and win over them, and that works great for me.

Mercè collaborated with Bolivia project from 9 to 21 September 2018.

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