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La Primera Semana – El Orfanato

The orphanage – We directly visited the orphanage the morning after we arrived in Riberalta. Me and my roommate Pablo from Italy will be working in the orphanage several days in the week. We are a good team, we have the same humor and we are almost always on the same page.

Prior to visiting the orphanage I expected to be nervous. However, new impressions came in so quickly I didn’t have time to be nervous. Acceptation of the situation followed. From the moment we entered the orphanage I couldn’t believe my eyes. Wow, what a big colourful place with a football field, a playground, animals, a big garden and many children. An orhanage wasn’t quite the name I was thinking about when seeing this place, to me it looked like beautiful little paradise. The children came straight at us, we shook hands and introduced ourselves. Afterwards, we got a little tour around the orphanage. We saw the kitchen, the dining area, several gardens, the chicken coop and a little open hut which was the classroom.

We shortly talk to the founder of the orphanage. Mirjam is a Swiss woman who’s married to a Bolivian man, they founded the organisation 10 years ago. Originally Mirjam is a sign language teacher, but right now she is leading the orphanage. A challenging job since twenty children between three and eightteen years old live in the orphanage. Three children are deaf amongst the tweny children. I get goose bumps once I hear all of the children know the sign language. I still have so many questions left for ‘Mimi’, but she is very busy because her husband and several childeren left to Santa Cruz for a week to play a football tournament. I decide to ask my questions later.

Within 20 minutes me and Pablo are being asked to dig a hole with one of the children. Trash will be put into this hole once it’s dug. I guess it’s around 27 degrees and full of energy we start to dig. Within half an hour I’m all sweaty. The child that helps us out doesn’t seem to suffer from the heat at all. We communicate in a creative way because he is deaf. We write each others name in the ground and give each other many High Fives. Since I arrived in Bolivia I’ve been quite frustrated my Spanish wasn’t more advanced. After digging the whole together with ‘Neo’ I thought to myself I shouldn’t complain.

In the afternoon it’s time to play games. Quickly I find out football is by far the most famous sport in Bolivia, they love football! After having so many new impressions it just feels great to see that football on the other side of the world is exactly the same game. So far I’ve played football everyday with the children, I get such a happy feeling during these moments. Playing football in the climate of the Amazon is special, humidity is very high, it’s really warm and sun is often being replaced with intense showers. The kids don’t seem to be scared of the rain, they continue playing football which result in funny moments where many kids are slipping away. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the showers as well, everytime I’m the first person to be overheated and sweated. After playing so much football I know for sure I would like to invest a part of the donations into sport and into football in particular.

 

Erik van Krimpen

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