Traveling to developing countries for A Chance In Life is always challenging and eventful. But my latest trip to Rome in June, proved to be just as intense. Here are some highlights:
My classes continue to amaze me by teaching me the different ways society is set up to favor certain populations over others, and teaching me what I can do to help. I’m interested in the sociological structure, historical context, and culture surrounding the health and advancement of children, which is why A Chance in Life appeals so much to me!
I first heard about A Chance in Life last autumn, and have been enthralled with the unique and selfless mission ever since. I am most excited about seeing the daily workings of a non-profit organization, and working with the dedicated and amazing staff at A Chance in Life to think of new ways to help the children. I am also excited to learn more about individual children from the towns, and have a more personal connection to the plight of millions across the globe. The investment that this organization makes towards the betterment of children is inspiring, and I can’t wait to become a part of it!
What is señora Carmen doing on top of those rocks in San Juan de Lurigancho in Perú? She is simply leaving her home to go to the market to buy food for her family. Her house, a shack made of scrap materials, was put together overnight on a hilly area near Lima.
Like señora Carmen, thousands of poor and desperate families leave the mountains to relocate closer to the city where they hope to find work. Brother Steve of the Congregation of Christian Brothers has been working with volunteers to build better and safer homes for these families for almost a decade. Here in Perú, this phenomenon of migration and in most cases illegal occupation of land is called “human invasion.”
Last week, A Chance In Life made history. In collaboration with the Italian Permanent Mission to the United Nations, we hosted an international panel discussion at the headquarters of the United Nations on April 27th.
Our directors from Italy and Ethiopia were present and shared with donors, journalists and dignitaries the evolution of A Chance In Life. With your help, our “Towns” expanded beyond the borders of Italy to support boys and girls throughout the world.
Greetings from Rome, where I am visiting Boys' & Girls' Towns of Italy in Rome and Boys' & Girls' Republic in Civitavecchia.
I have great news to share.
I see progress in both Towns and happiness among the children. At the Republic, a new building for eight girls was just inaugurated and the new citizens will arrive by this summer. There is great excitement for this event, as their arrival will bring the population of this Town to more than forty children.
This is for you … who must go to the river every day to fill up a tank of water for your family and carry it on your shoulders for miles.
This is for you … who start your long journey to school before the sun rises, sometimes barefoot, for two hours every day walking through fields, always fearing that someone could abduct you.
This is for you … who were abandoned by your parents, but found the strength to forgive them and create your own hopeful future.
This is for you … who risked everything on a boat hoping to find a better life in Italy, and instead were forced by criminals to steal and sell your body.
Magic is the art of producing illusions by sleight of hand or trick props. I have learned one or two tricks so that when I visit the children in our programs in Italy, India or Ethiopia I can communicate with them despite the language barrier. One of my favorite routines is the mysterious disappearance of a red tissue.
The 40 boys in our “town” at St. Savio’s Home in Pavaraity, India, need not check the weather forecast before they go to school. They know that every day at 7 AM there will be heavy showers.
So, they put on their swimming suits, go to a gathering point outside, and wait for the rain with a soap and a bath sponge in their hands. The water does not come from heavy clouds in the sky, but from an ingenious system created by the program directors who take care of them. They could not afford to build 40 showers so they created a fun way to get all the kids washed in time for school.
“Sister, I am really full. Thank you, but no…” said Martina, our Development Associate, to the Indian nun who was offering more food to her.
“You must try this!” With a quick move, the sister scooped more food onto her plate.
“But, Sister, I am a vegetarian …”
“Oh, but it’s quail from our farm!”
This was the typical scene in India as we visited our “Towns” in Kerala last month. Usually three or four nuns (see picture above) would surround and patrol each of us until we ate all the delicious dishes they had prepared for us. They never sat with us, even if we insisted.