Thursday, July 20, 2006

Our third course was set in Itapaya which is about 60 km from the city of Cochabamba in route to La Paz. This area was poorer than our previous courses, and the entire city was without running water. Ruth and Sobre la Roca had been to this location about 5 years ago to do a course, so the people were eager and excited to complete the workshop with us. This was our biggest course, and we extended our budget a little to account for the 26 participants. We felt that it was in our best interest because the whole community already knew of our cookers and how well they worked.

The first day of the course we noticed a little girl sitting in a wheelbarrow. At first we did not think much of it, but a little later we realized that she still had not gotten out of it to walk around. We began talking with the people from the community and found out that little Anet, nine years old, had been in a car accident four years ago. Both of her legs had to be amputated from the knee down. Our heart went out to her, but what bothered us more was the fact that she was immobile and completely reliant on her mother to move her around. Also, everyday her mother had to carry Anet on her back to and from school.

That day we decided that we would put some project money towards trying to get her a wheelchair. The problem was, wheelchairs in South America are extremely hard to find, and usually very expensive because they are all imported. However, we told Ruth our idea and she spent a whole day looking for something for little Anet. By the grace of God, she found a very nice wheelchair for a decent price! When we wheeled the chair in the community began clapping because everyone knew how badly Anet needed this gift. Her mother was so overcome with joy that she wept quietly off to the side after she had thanked us.

Thanks to those that donated to our project, small miracles like this are possible. The father of Anet made it to the course the last afternoon and thanked us all from the bottom of his heart. He told me that she needed the new chair so badly, but they did not have the money to get one for her. The rest of the afternoon Anet spent rolling herself around and playing with the other children. The smile on her face is something that we will never forget. The family insisted that we return to have lunch with them sometime in August and we plan to do so. All in all Itapaya was a great success, and The Bolivia Project is moving with good momentum into our next three months!