Yesterday I spent my first work session at Millenium House for Amizade here in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The pictures I have posted are the most sanitized I could find. After two and half hours, I was totally spent. There are about 35 children, most of them 3 yrs old and younger. Although staffed by, I think, no more than three young ladies under 20 years old, it is an incredible how much these people are able to accomplish. The city through the federal govenment provides 75 cents a day for only a few children, enough to buy one glass of milk. The rest of the resouces require donations. For those of you who have had or presently have little children, will understand. Supplies are totally inadequate. Each child gets one diaper for the day and one for night. There is only one washing machine for all the clothing. To say the least, I have been in better smelling places, but every attempt is made to keep the children as clean as possible.
I played with a number of the children shown above, swinging them around, making faces and drawing their portraits. In one regard though, I soon learned I had to change my approach. For those that know me,they will not be surprised to learn the first thing I did was to give a boy my cap. He wore it proudly and considered himself Mr Special. Later, when Iwanted to retrieve it, since it was my only one and I've worn it throughout the trip, I was reminded that I best wash it first, since many children have head lice. I go back later today for another shift. It is so gripping. I find myself in a guarded control mode. I have raised children and loved them dearly, but yesterday I had to cope with an atmosphere where there is so much need. I wrote an article weeks ago about the difficulty of genuinely feeling for others. Yesterday my senses went on overload, I acted almost mechanically. I did a lot and acted "as if".