C1B in the house!! Hey everybody, this is Grace and Monse coming to you live from Constanza. Today was probably one of the most emotionally challenging days for all of us, as we got a chance to be exposed to new perspectives that opened all of our eyes. We started off the morning at 7 A.M. to get ready to have sandwiches and oats, lemon, and carrot juice to start off the day. Some of us woke up earlier because of the LOUD cat fights that were going on outside in the wee hours of the morning. We headed out after that to Cecaini, a local school built to provide educational opportunities to impoverished children. We gathered in one of the classrooms to speak to the school’s only male teacher about his experiences as part of the staff. We were able to learn more about the way education is valued in Constanza. Thanks to Cecaini, children are able to receive vocational skills, free meals, clothing, medical care, and school supplies. Once the children starting pouring into the courtyard, we set up our materials to play intense games of soccer and basketball and practice our amazing face painting skills. By the end of the afternoon, we were not only covered in paint but emotionally fulfilled as well.

Next, we came back to our hostel where we enjoyed some delicious fish, macaroni salad, and vegetable rice for lunch. We laced up our thick soled shoes and zipped up our rain jackets to prepare for the rain, but nothing could prepare us for what we were about to experience at the local dump. After a thirty minute bus ride, we arrived to find people living and working amongst piles of trash, millions of flies, and amidst the smoke of burning rubber. As we carefully stepped off the bus, we couldn’t quite comprehend what we were seeing, even though according to our PC Katherine, “it looked cleaner than usual.” We then split up in to small groups and chatted with three people working and living in the dump. After spending an hour getting to know the community members, we learned that most of them had lived in the dump for more than twenty years with their families. We discovered that they sorted trash and attempted to sell what was salvageable for 10 to 12 hours every day, only to make less than $2 by the time the sun had set. Their houses were made of garbage found in the dump, and were constantly in need of reconstruction, such as in the case of one man whose house had recently been burned to the ground by the sun’s reaction with its materials. After thanking the locals with snacks and a kite, we made our way back to the bus and travelled back to our hostel for mandatory showers. The bus ride back was unusually silent as we reflected on what we had just seen.

It was difficult for many of us to collect our emotions in order to prepare for English Tutoring, but many of us found solace and laughter in our students’ enthusiasm to learn. After the regular two hour class, we walked back in gloomy weather to a dinner of fried cheese, mashed yuka, and steamed vegetables at the hostel. We ate as quickly as possible in order to still make time for our group reflections on our newfound perspectives on poverty on a local and global scale. Listening to one another’s feelings and ideas allowed us to reflect further on how we could bring the humbling experience back to our lives in the U.S. It was incredible to hear the caring and thoughtful words of each member of our C1B family which provided a great segue into our nightly meeting. As usual we shared lots of Big Love and passed the torch off to Peter and Jose for tomorrow’s adventure. We can’t wait for another 6 A.M. wake up call tomorrow!


Grace and Monse

P.S. Love love love LOVE and miss you Mom, Dad, Rosie, Roman, Grammie, Aggie, and Purdy. Hope Purdy’s tummy is okay and that the cactus is still thriving. I can’t wait to see you and tell you every last detail of this life changing trip. 🙂 love, g

P.S pt.2  Mom, words can’t begin to explain how great it was to hear your voice and Peanut’s. I miss you all so much and I can’t wait to share all of my new experiences with you. I’m sad that I couldn’t call everyone, but just know that I love you all. I may come back a little big after all these snacks and delicious meals at Dilenia’s, but just know that my love for all of you will still be the same. Mucho amor, Monse