I am happy to say that this post was recently featured on the World Vision blog!
To the incredible mothers and fathers of Bolivia,
This journey has been an opportunity to give a voice for the voiceless. To put a spotlight on the unseen. To shed light on what life is like through the eyes of Bolivians. I hope that I have shared and will continue to share your stories with the accuracy and thoughtfulness that they deserve.
To the mothers who pray daily for the health and future of their children — you are the fortitude of your families. To the mothers who battle cultural discrimination because their children are born with disabilities — you are women of strength. To the mothers who took in children who were not their own because no one else would — you are brave. To Celestina whose son Wilfram was born with a heart condition and down syndrome – I count you full of courage for never giving up hope in his life or in God.
To the fathers who have considered leaving their families for the sake of a better financial future, but haven’t — you are men of faith. To the fathers who work 16-hour days to ensure that their children have something to eat, and even then it’s not always enough — you are worthy of blessing. To the men like 23-year-old Justino who became father-figures for their own orphaned siblings as a teenager because their parents abandoned them — you are an example of love.
To the mothers and fathers I have met on this journey, it has been an absolute pleasure to get a glimpse into your lives. Getting to know what daily life looks like for you, through all its struggles and all its joys, has been an honor and privilege.
Although I’ve learned a great deal in this past week about myself, this journey was never about me. It was not meant for my own benefit. This trip was about you, and what God is doing in your communities and hearts. His love is what is breaking down the bonds of abuse, gender discrimination, and brokenness. And what joy it has been to see your communities empowered to make the future brighter for your children, all because of your determination and perseverance.
I will never forget that working against poverty means working in partnership with your families that live on $1 a day. My responsibility to share your story will never be finished. By sharing your stories of struggle, my hope and prayer is that more children will be sponsored, because it is through sponsorship that basic needs in your communities can be met.
Thank you for taking the time to tell me your stories, and to share your hopes and dreams for the future. I will continue to carry your stories of hope, love, faith, and determination in my heart, and I am humbled to do so. May the peace of Jesus reside in your home and among your loved ones.
May your hearts be blessed as you have blessed mine,
We were lucky to meet Moses, a little boy that will receive massive chest surgery on Tuesday, August 9th. Moses’ mother asked the World Vision bloggers to pray for her son – join us in the prayer we said for her.
All photos ©2011 Amy Conner for World Vision
Dear Gracious and Beloved Heavenly Father,
Lord, I just lift up Moses to you
I pray when he goes into surgery, Lord that you take care of every detail;
That [his mother] would know that You are with her;
Please bring peace to his mother’s heart.
You are with every breath of her child.
I pray that Moses would come through healthy and whole;
And that he would live a life full of abundance and peace.
We thank you for this, [in Jesus’ name],
They’re beautiful. They inspire us. Who are they?
Celestine – Meet a woman who is a fierce example of what the love of a mother can do. When Celestine’s son was young, he wasn’t able to walk and play like a healthy little boy. Her community wasn’t exactly helpful either. Celestine remembers, “People used to come and tell me I drank something and that’s why the child is like this.” But instead of feeling helpless, she carried him everywhere she went, even when she went out into the fields to work. Celestine’s son was finally able to receive surgery at the age of five through World Vision support, and now this happy little boy runs and plays. She is very thankful to God. Celestine’s determination to never give up on her child inspired her community and will continue to inspire others around the world.
Silvana – One woman that brought a smile to my face was Silvana. Silvana works as a World Vision child sponsorship coordinator in Colomi, which is located close to the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. She had the kind of smile that can light up a room and brighten someone’s day. Although Silvana might see gloomy conditions that some communities live in (such as children that live in an abusive household), she never would let go of her joy. Her glowing personality really uplifted my day, and it was a pleasure to get to know her.
Victoria – Victoria was once a sponsored World Vision child, but now the 20-year-old woman shows what it means to give back to others. Victoria is still in school herself, but she spends three days each week being a preschool teacher. It was a surprise to discover how much time this busy woman devotes to the children! We were lucky enough to visit her preschool class. As we watched her teach we could tell that she is patient and wonderful at her job. The little ones adore her, and I know that she will continue to make such a positive different in the lives of these children.
Aide – Those who weren’t born with a green thumb (like me!) can learn a lot from this avid farmer and mother, Aide. On her small plot of land this woman has been able to revolutionize the way she feeds her family. World Vision programs, like nutrition-based programs, help parents know which healthy foods will be best for their children. Before the nutrition program, Aide was feeding her children toasted corn and didn’t have a large variety of foods available. But now with her land, garden, and livestock, three generations of this family live on fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, meat, and more. They grow enough beans and carrots to take to the market (which gives them an income). Aide will use that money to buy milk, and they will make cheese in the process. Now it’s easy to see the benefits of this new healthy, diverse diet by watching her kids: her daughter Gabriela was recently the top student in her first grade class. Three cheers for Aide and her hard work to feed her family! With hope, Aide can inspire others to keep nutritious food an important priority.
Arminda – You’d never guess Arminda had a difficult past when you saw how much she smiled. This 6 year-old was left to fend for herself on the streets as a very young child. Soon Elena, a woman who lived nearby, found Arminda on the streets and immediately took Arminda home. Arminda was cleaned up and given food to eat. Elena loved this little girl and she said to us that, “the girl was suffering too much” and that she, “wanted to protect her.” Elena and her husband officially adopted her (even when they had four children of their own). Arminda now giggles and her bubbly personality is infectious. This little girl doesn’t allow her past to affect her present life. I left meeting Arminda with a big smile on my own face.
Check out the story of Arminda’s mother and other inspiring woman on my friend Rachel Held Evans’ blog “Six Bolivian Women of Valor.”
All photos copyright Amy Conner with World Vision.