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Are you hungry?


From time to time, my ministry site CUBE has short term volunteers from the United States. They come to share their time, learn more about Bolivia, and learn more about the fight against sexual violence. Although they bring the best of intentions, at times they struggle to understand the populations with which they are spending time.

For example, I remember one time that we were in a classroom at CEV during lunchtime. Brisa, the founder of CUBE and CEV, had shared first that the food that the children eat while at school is the only food that they eat during the week, and also that when the children start eating that we will need to assist them. A volunteer asked what seemed like an innocent question, “Why would we need to help them eat if they are undernourished and underfed?”

The answer is a simple one to a complex problem: because they are normal little kids who sometimes don’t want to eat their Brussel sprouts. Think back to your childhood. If you didn’t have enough food on the table, did you know that there wasn’t enough food, or did you just trust that your parents would provide the food and you would eat it?

This is the same reason that people sometimes get self-righteous when people living on the street say that they don’t like a type of food. Who are we to say that someone should eat everything under the sun, or does the right to human dignity override the implication of those more privileged not to look a gift horse in the mouth?

As I continue to be blessed to be able to volunteer my time at CEV and assist in feeding the children there, I often think that this memo hasn’t reached the children. They don’t know that they suffer from a lack of resources. They look around and think, “this is how everyone else lives.” And in a way, I think that they too are blessed to think this way. When they are older, let them have the worries that come with adult responsibilities. For now, let them just be kids.

Arts and craft with the kids

Arts and craft with the kids

Valerie served for two years (2014-2015) in Cochabamba, Bolivia working with CUBE (Centro Una Brisa de Esperanza) to raise sexual violence awareness and prevention, and in CEV (Comunidad Educativa Para La Vida) teaching and nurturing children six months to 8-years-old. Valerie grew up outside of Wichita, Kansas and graduated from The University of Tampa. She found her way to Franciscan Mission Service after 12 years of working in higher education where she worked with international students and designed and taught a class called "Avoiding Violence: Be A Part of the Solution."