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National Volunteer Month Profile: Kitzi in Bolivia

Kitzi Hendricks started her Bolivian mission in January after completing three months of training with us in Washington, DC. Originally from Sacramento, California, she graduated last year Creighton University where she studied psychology and was a member of Pi Beta Phi
Today Kitzi shares about her new ministry with Madre de Dios in Cochabamba, a shelter for women, adolescent girls, and children who have been abused, neglected, and abandoned. 
“I visited Madre de Dios while in language school and fell in love immediately. When I followed up with them about serving, Hermana told me that they had a great need for someone who could work with the adolescents. I am now working with girls between the ages of 12 and 15 who have been abused or abandoned by their families.
When I come to the shelter, I am always welcomed by one of my adolescent girls with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, and then by Gabriel, one of the little boys.  Every time he sees me, he runs to greet me and grabs both of my hands so that I can lift him up and give him a hug and a kiss.
As I walk through the hallway and up the stairs to our room, my girls greet me with a “Señorita!” and the younger girls across the hall either attack me with hugs or blow kisses. How blessed am I to receive this grand welcoming every morning when I get to work?
Right now, I am mostly tutoring in math, reading and grammar – which can be extremely difficult when I am still learning Spanish grammar myself! I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to see math problems in my entire life.
Anyways, I love what I am doing right now. I love the girls, and I really enjoy getting to spend time with them during our lunch breaks each day.
What I’m really learning is patience.  I’m learning to be patient with myself–in how I speak and what thoughts I can express, in what responsibilities I can handle, in the trust that others have in me.
I’m learning to be patient with my adolescent girls.  I’m learning to be patient when I teach the same numbers and letters over and over each day to the two girls who are unable to read or count.  I’m learning to be patient when the girls have their difficult days and don’t want to behave.
But the hardest part about working at Madre is that the girls come and go so fast.  Sometimes they run away… even the ones you would least expect.  Other times they are taken home to another family member, and sometimes they are taken to another hogar, a more permanent shelter.
Wherever they go, many times I don’t have the chance to say goodbye.  I always pray that if they have run away, that I never see them on the streets.  All I can hope for is that they are in a much better place and have the opportunity to grow in love and education in their new homes.”

Kitzi served as a lay missioner in Cochabamba, Bolivia from 2012-2014. During her three years on mission she worked with teenage girls at the Madre de Dios shelter and at the Instituto de Terapia e Investigación (Institute of Therapy and Investigation) to accompany people who had experienced torture under the Bolivian dictatorships. Originally from Northern California, Kitzi is a graduate of St. Francis High School in Sacramento and Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, where she earned a bachelor's in psychology in 2011. She is currently in graduate school at Santa Clara University.