As you can probably tell, while I’ve been in Cochabamba the young people living under the bridges have really touched me, so last week was quite a special moment in my trip. We had a morning where many of the young people came to the centre, this was not only a special moment for myself but also for John, Sandra, Freddy and Libertad. (Above is a picture of myself and some of the young people walking up to the centre.)
On this particular morning we picked them up from the bridges in a mini bus, we piled about 20 people into a 12 seater mini bus; that was a tight squeeze but fun. Their spirits we’re pretty high this day so I was really excited to get back to the centre and spent more time with them. Its hard when all I have limited Spanish to properly engage with people, especially these kids. However I still attempted to speak to them as much as possible, and they all enjoyed laughing at my Yorkshire/Spanish accent.
We arrived at the centre and they all seemed happy to be there, and we’re all accepting and willing to leave their glue at the door and embark on a relatively ‘cleared headed’ morning, away from the glue sniffing, alcohol and life on the streets. It was great to not only see there smiles but also the smiles of the staff at the centre; I could tell it meant so much to them having these young people there. The morning was great! We talked and laughed alot, John played football with some of the boys while others showered and washed their clothes.
Afterwards we sang, prayed and ate lunch together. As there was so many people in the centre there we’re no chairs left so I went to go sit on the floor with my lunch. One of the boys quickly jumped up off his seat and insisted he gave up his chair for me, such manners and courtesy, these young men are more gentleman like than many ´men´ at home. I know this is only a small act of kindness but it really touched me. Once we finished eating they all helped clear up and then it was time to take them back to the bridges. I was quite upset I didn´t have more time in the centre with them as I was enjoying it so much and it seemed like they were as well.
The journey back to the bridge was fun, again we all squeezed into the mini bus and many of the boys sang along to the songs on the radio. We dropped many of them off at a place close to the bridge where they work washing windscreens as people stop at traffic lights, doing this makes them enough money just to support their addictions and I guess maybe buy a small amount of food. I was quite sad to say goodbye to them because I really wanted to spend more time with them, and I guess I knew as we left them on the streets they we’re back into the life of struggle they lead, nevertheless a it was a wonderful morning. Another significant moment to add to my trip, one I´ll never forget.