I have been offered a life changing opportunity to help those in need in a way that I could have never imagined. This summer, I hope to embark on a 4 month journey to Cochabamba, Bolivia. Already, you may have a few questions and I will do my very best to answer them.The first, and biggest are “Where is Bolivia?” and “Why bolivia?”. Bolivia is a country in South America, located next to Brazil. Bolivia has one of the highest poverty rates amongst the latin american countries. My overall goal with this mission trip to Cochabamba involves me working with youth in group homes in which they live, in order to escape dangerous or poor living situations. I was introduced to an organization called Ninos con Valor, Inc. , by a member of my church and feel it is the perfect place for me to achieve these goals in Bolivia.
Ninos con Valor has four programs that help underprivileged youth in various ways in various stages of their lives. "Pedacito de Cielo" is a residential home for boys and daycare for children affected by HIV/Aids. “Corazón del Pastor ” is a residential home for girls and teens. “Sendero de Esperanza ”is a program to help prepare our teens for independent living and a transitional home. There is also a sponsorship program where people in our community, along with others across the country and world, sponsor children at Ninos via charitable donation.
The first thought that may come to mind is “how will you communicate with the children and fellow volunteers? This question is part of the reason that I became interested in Bolivia, I am currently a high honors student in Spanish 5 and I am very competent with the language. This opportunity not only enables me to help children in need, but also provides me with countless learning experiences, whether that be refining my language skills, gaining an understanding of a completely new culture, or broadening my world view.
This experience is something that I am extremely excited for and it is also something that I feel ready for. I have gone on mission trips for the past two years, as a youth group member of St. George’s Episcopal Church in York Harbor Maine, in which myself and a group of my peers drove down to Kentucky to volunteer as camp counselors at the Pine Mountain Settlement School . This was at an overnight reading camp for children in need of literacy help, amongst other things, who were falling between the cracks of their school systems.The experience I gained from being a camp counselor has helped me in countless ways. I gained a sense of maturity and a feeling of responsibility that only comes with being responsible for the wellbeing of others, especially young children. I learned to listen to the kids and hear their stories. It was from these stories that I became able to understand why and how a certain camper would react to a situation in the manner that they did. I learned to take a step back and look at the big picture, not just a present obstacle. I hope to take these lessons I learned in Kentucky and apply them in Bolivia, where I will put all of my skills to use in helping the youth.
The time frame for the trip would involve me leaving in late June, about two weeks after my graduation from Marshwood High School in South Berwick, Maine, and returning four months later in October. I will be staying with a host family while in Bolivia, that will have worked with Ninos con Valor already, and will help guide me on my mission. Four months sounds like a long time, and that’s because it is. After meeting with one of the directors, and listening to him preach while visiting Maine, I feel that it is the time frame that enables me to most effectively help the youth in Bolivia and leave a lasting positive impact on their lives.
I am blessed to have the support of my family, teachers at Marshwood High School, and church, St. George’s in York Harbor, Maine, and will be reaching out to other organizations as well. This fundraising effort is to cover traveI costs, passport, temporary resident visa, room & board, potential funds and supplies for my work there, incidentals, and potential gifts/supplies that are of need to Ninos con Valor. Any funds raised in addition to my goal will be used for supplies/gifts for Ninos and possibly start an ongoing relationship with the organization. Any contribution would be greatly appreciated, as well as prayers and moral, emotional & spiritual support for me on this life changing journey. I hope that you are as excited as I am about this opportunity, would be glad to answer any questions you may have, and it would mean the world to me if you could be a part of making this mission trip successful.
Follow my blog & my journey at www.keaganroberts.com
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