Luis and Patri’s volunteer experience at La Misión Hogar Santa Nazaria (Santa Elena, Medellin, Colombia)
Colombia is a very rich and beautiful country with happy and charming people, but where violence of all kinds has caused more than 8 million displaced people and has led countless uprooted families to situations of extreme poverty, where degradation and violence in the bosom of the family is a constant and where the future of childhood is dark, especially for girls, whose future passes through misery, burdened, since puberty, with children of successive parents, looking for life “whatever it is” to survive and feed their offspring…
We are living in this Hogar Santa Nazaria Mission located in Santa Elena, a beautiful enclave located in the mountains and belonging to the city of Medellín, we have been welcomed as one more, and we enjoy the love and joy that is breathed here. The construction of the house, a two-story square where all the rooms are accessed from a large central courtyard with a roof that lets in light and where they all live together in an environment that is not that of an educational institution, but rather that of a large family of varied ages (here the term family is not a euphemism, the family lives and feels), they all collaborate in everything (cleaning, cooking, dining room, taking care of the plants, taking care of the greenhouse, the hens of the rabbits…), the older ones help take care of the little ones, comb their hair, make sure they are clean and well-groomed… Sister Marta Nelly carries out her duties honestly, but with love and joy… she cooks for them, scolds them, comforts them, trains them, He helps them with their homework, promotes playful and educational activities, continues their studies, talks with the girls’ families, meets with the school’s teachers…
The Home is an institution that is deeply rooted and recognized by the social classes of Medellín and by the residents of Santa Elena who are attentive to the girls, from the teachers of the schools, through the commander of the police station and a good number of benefactors and collaborators who contribute to the Home, each one according to their possibilities, so that nothing is lacking… food, clothes, toys, support in the day-to-day life of the Home, recreational and cultural activities… and scholarships for the older ones who are beginning the university studies (at the moment two have already arrived).
These girls are being given the opportunity to reverse destiny and they are seeing, in the older girls, an example to follow that is diametrically different from the example offered by their family environment.
I would summarize it as the opportunity we have had to get to know, from within, this gear that is so effective in love and future, and to enjoy “with and from” these wonderful people who make up this family that we have found:
The girls who go to La Escuelita: Victoria, Nicol, Eva, Ana, Gabri, Maria Antonia, Sofi, Carolina, Valentina.
The ladies who go to school: Fernanda, Dolly, Deisy, Eilin, Michel, Alejandra, Sara, Violeta, Jimena, Isabella
The university students: Mari Ángel and Lisbeth
The collaborators and benefactors: Ruth and Beatriz (day to day of the home, a love with the girls and with us), Olga and Sergio, Maribel and Cristobal (great promoters, totally involved), Marci, Valeria and Valentina (reading club) , Ruber (commander of the police post who, for example, on the day of the flower parade brought them hamburgers…), Carina and family (activities, bazaar,…), Estefanía and Carolina (psychologist), Lucila and Doneti (neighbors who contribute milk from their cows). There are quite a few more, but during our stay we did not have the opportunity to meet them… at the end of mass on Sundays there is always someone who invites the girls to an ice cream…
And… Sister Marta Nelly… Three years ago when we began to learn about the NGO Bajar a la Calle sin Fronteras and the Crusader Missionaries of the Church, we had to consult the encyclopedia to try to understand what was meant by the word “charisma”. ”, now we also understand it in its materialization, we have seen and experienced “going down to the streets” and “raising the dignity of women”. “Not only do we train a woman, we train a woman who will train her children and so on…”
All of this overshadows for us what we could call typical activity as volunteers, we have tried to help and be useful for the girls and for the house… we have done school support activities, training in topics such as sex education, use of graphic design programs , origami workshops, making necklaces and bracelets, bicycle repair, accompanying, walking, playing… a few drops of oil in this gear that is so successful and beautiful.
Patri and Luis