Welcome back! We are excited to share our volunteer journey with NuevaLife in La Esperanza, Colombia. This is a remote community where extremely poor conditions are found along with a large number of deaths due to malnutrition every year.
Let’s look at how One Set 4 used this trip to impact these families in a positive way.
After the first day of the NuevaLife volunteering experience at La Esperanza the One Set 4 team was able to learn about this community.
There are about 2,000 communities just like La Esperanza in Colombia. This community alone holds 28 heads of family with an average of 4 members per family. Their main source of income is the sewing of “mochilas” which are handmade purses, which may take approximately 3 days to make, and hammocks, which may take a month to finish. Women usually handle this task while the men take care of the community through agriculture, transportation, other logistic work that supports their families. Ramadas are spots created to solve any local issues, by community leaders called "Palabreros" or "Caciques", these common areas are also used to meet any volunteers or guests coming in. Since children are out of school until mid-February they spend their time helping their elders with the communal gardens and playing games like soccer and dominoes.
We also learned a bit more about what’s being done in regards to the sustainable projects that NuevaLife is funding. The windmill technology that was incorporated by NuevaLife allows clean water to pump out of a well for easy access. The next phase of the project, which is what One Set 4 was able to contribute to was the plantation of organic gardens. So far there are 6 organic gardens made for tomatoes, onions, melons, chili peppers, beans, and another variety of vegetables and spices. It takes about one full day to build an entire garden and a whole month to start seeing something flourish.
Within Day 1, One Set 4 helped finish build 2 new organic gardens at the center of the community. Ideally these garden will flourish if watered twice a day, however due to recent complications with the water pump the workload to transport water has increased drastically. One Set 4 then set out to work with community leaders to find a solution to get the water pump up to optimal conditions within the coming days.
The second day at La Esperanza was a total success. We were able to contribute to the repairing of a broken pipe, which connects the windmill pump to the entire community’s main water reserve tank. Even though the job had its complications and it still has a portion that will repaired by the community, great progress was made at the beginning of Day 2.
Later throughout the day One Set 4 surprised the children with 10 new soccer balls, kindly donated by the Harrison Youth Soccer Club in Westchester, New York. Prior to this the 28 families shared only one soccer ball, but that never stopped them from competing in the local tournaments under the name Real La Esperanza. We are hopeful this gift will help them continue to an active lifestyle through their favorite sport.
Our last day was our most significant day because we dedicated it to the youth of the community. We had a special guest join us from Germany, named Silvia. We met Silvia at our hostel in Rioacha, when we spoke to her about our mission with NuevaLife she was immediately touched and wanted to be a part of it.
The day began early with a soccer match including most of the young boys with some girls and toddlers watching and cheering from the sidelines. Silvia made the experience more special by taking pictures with her phone, Wayuu children love to take pictures and watch themselves on a screen. The winners of the match were determined after an intense round of penalty kicks, which was won by the home team.
After the match we celebrated with a traditional walk to the river. The children were happy leading the way and pointing out snakes and monkeys. It was incredible to see how much the children enjoyed the little things of nature and sharing it with guests. Once we reached the river we shared refreshments with them and Silvia taught them the importance of recycling, which they of course took seriously.
Overall this was an amazing experience and we invite you to learn more about NuevaLife’s sustainable projects and other volunteering mission trips. NuevaLife is currently seeking volunteers to help with photography and video during their upcoming April mission. If interested, reach out directly via email at info@NuevaLife.org or phone at +1.954.937.5908.