In case you didn’t know, Sucre (where we are staying) is the chocolate capital of Bolivia. Of course this made all of us excited…and we had hoped to try the chocolate at some point. Today was that lucky day! We met the Food for the Hungry staff at the chocolate factory “Para Ti”, but they gave us a treat sweeter than chocolate…they brought along our sponsored children! It was so wonderful to have a special activity with the children and have extra time to spend with them. My own sponsored child is pretty shy, but she lit right up when the chocolate samples came out!
This afternoon we were invited to a women’s saving group meeting. While they typically have smaller meetings, this was their first meeting with representatives from all of the local communities. Each small group of women shared information about their own neighborhood group and then a Food for the Hungry staff member facilitated a conversation about what challenges groups may have had and how they have worked through their challenges. Many of the groups have only formed in the last year, but the communities of women have created fairly elaborate systems for saving money as a group. It was so wonderful to hear the women speak about where the group was a year ago, how they work together to save money, how they encourage new women to join them, how their numbers have grown, and how they will eventually be able to spend the money they saved for the year. Their system was impressive, BUT the joy and pride in their faces when they shared what they have accomplished and how it has improved their well-being was what touched me most. In a culture where they may not otherwise find sense of purpose or hope, we witnessed a room full of women who are now in charge of their family finances, are setting and achieving goals, and are creating more hopeful and joyful lives for their families and children.
Today was our last trip into Lajastambo, the city which now holds a special place in all our hearts. We will miss the people, the children, and witnessing the way Food For The Hungry has and continues to pour into this community. Food for the Hungry’s vision is to reach the most vulnerable. It was among the most vulnerable of Lajastambo that we found the warmest welcome. We will miss the open arms, easy laughter, and genuine generosity that came so easily to people that have so little.
The hardest question we are asked is “When will you come back?”. Although it breaks our hearts to hear it, we can confidently assure the people and children that other representatives from Blackhawk will continue to come along side Food for the Hungryand will continue to support, encourage, build relationships and assist with work God has called them to.