Our Last Days in Colombia

Bob and I are now back in Calgary but still have a few things about our last weeks in Colombia left to show you .

Following a successful workshop for coordinators of the Safe Water program, Bob and Eva, the workshop leader, spent four days in La Guajira where they visited Wayuu “rancherias” in which the Rotary Club Cerrejon has been providing filters to needy families.

A rancheria in La Guajira where temperature averages about 35 C and water is scarce.
Families collect water in old oil cans – not the best but it is available.

Later, the group traveled to Fonseca, a town site where they meet up with Harold, a Rotarian from the Fonseca Club.

Luis Alberto, the safe water coordinator, provides on-site filter orientation to the homeowner while Rotarians, Harold and Heriberto, and Eva listen.

Bob continued his travels by going to Santa Marta, Medellin and Bogota to meet with other Rotary Clubs, businesses and our local safe water promoters, Rocio y Ivan. Back in Calgary, he can finally stay put for a little while, at least.

I arrived in La Guajira the weekend after Bob left, traveling in the company of John, the engineering technician working on the custom stroller project. These strollers are custom-made for each child and are adjustable to provide a comfortable and secure fit. Three of the five strollers delivered in La Guajira were to children living in “rancherias”.

When John and I arrived, a hurricane (forget which one) was blowing over the Caribbean, throwing rain on a normally dry area. This complicated our travel by converting normally sandy, dusty roads into something that felt like slushy snow (slip and slide).

At one point, we left the truck to get through a difficult part of the road, only to find our own challenges.

The stroller project gives me a great deal of satisfaction. When we seat a child, I check the posture, of course, but I also look at the child’s face. I want to capture the child’s expression to know if and when he or she feels really comfortable. An expression of satisfaction and in some cases, all-out joy, comes into the eyes of even those who are profoundly affected and do not express themselves verbally or with facial expression.  In those cases, we take our cue from the parent who, in many cases, express relief that a good solution has been found.

This is Robinson last year. Notice he isn’t smiling.
This year, Robinson couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. Now we can actually SEE him!
Another photo with part of the family and Rotarians from the Cerrejon Club, with Martha the Club’s Foundation Social Worker. This same Rotary Club supports the Safe Water and the Education Assistance Programs – busy people!

CAPD works with Rotary clubs in a cost-sharing arrangement to provide these strollers. The assessment is completed well in advance to allow ASODISPIE time to finish construction.

Jorge, ASODISPIE’s technician, constructs anything that has to do with metal. His son and assistant, Giovanni, can be seen in the background.

The next weekend, John and I were off to Montería where CAPD shares the project with the Rotary Club Ronda del Sinu. This year was the third for the stroller project in this district and besides providing new strollers, we reviewed strollers provided in previous years.

Jonaton and his mother traveled four hours to make the appointment.
Mario and his mother and brother are equally satisfied.

Bob and I are happy with the results of this trip. Not to say that improvements cannot be made, because there is lots of room for providing a better product to more people.

But, above all we are thankful – thankful to be working with people who are committed and passionate about their work; thankful that we have been given this work to do; and thankful for the guiding hand that directs our organization and that of our partners. We are also thankful to have supporters such as you, who keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Bob and Marlene