Saturday was an incredibly busy day for me! I woke up around 9, showered, and got ready to go volunteer. At 10, my friend Juan Diego and his cousin Diego (yup I know they have like the same name) picked me up and took me to the office of the volunteer program called Techo Para Chile. There was no registration, no paperwork to fill out or release forms to sign, we just waited until all the volunteers showed up and then walked to the bus stop. We rode the bus for a while and then when we got off, we crossed the highway and walked up into the hills on foot. I could immediately tell that this part of Chile was very different from the parts I’d seen before. There was trash everywhere, and the houses weren’t houses—they were shacks standing really close together. There were no cars, although I did see a few horses pulling carts with people standing in them. We were in a camp of 147 families living in complete squalor. It was a level of poverty that I have never seen before. All us volunteers walked through the camp until we reached a small fenced in area with a Techos sign. This was our “school house”. We walked around collecting the kids who regularly attend the school and saying hi to their families. I went into one house to help a kid find his notebook, and there was only one bedroom with 4 beds in it and clothes piled everywhere because there was no dresser or hangers. We learned that a two week old baby had dies that morning in the camp because it couldn’t breathe during the night and it’s not like they have healthcare or a hospital nearby to care for the sick kid. Once all the kids were in the school, we tried teaching them a little English, but really they are so uneducated that it’s kind of pointless to try to help them when we only come one day a week. The main goal of Techo isn’t to teach material but to teach morals, values, and to let kids know that there is more to the world than what they see in their neighborhood. We talked to them, they made fun of my accent, we let them play games on our phones, we bought them ice cream, and we played tag in a nearby field. The kids were fricken adorable and I loved talking to them! I can’t wait to go back next weekend.
After Juan Diego’s dad dropped me off at home, I ate lunch with my family, and then Nancy drove me to my friend Lila’s house. Lila lives in the countryside. Like seriously I’m talking dirt roads, no neighbors, surrounded by crops countryside. She has a gorgeous house and backyard that’s like totally isolated from civilization. We hung out at her house for a while with our other friend Fernanda, and then her mom drove us to a stable not too far away where her family and Fernanda’s family keep their horses. I got to ride a horse and watch as Fernanda and Lila’s dads practiced rodeo. Then we went and looked in the stables at the ponies and sheep, and then we drove back to Lila’s. We played with her dog Clifford in the backyard, and then we ate junk food for a while and talked. Both Lila and Fernanda are so nice and hilarious. I think they are two of my best friends here. Like I’m super awkward and can’t really speak that much but they always talk to me and make an effort to include me and I am so appreciative of that.
After a while, I got a call from Monse telling me that they were coming to pick me up because the family wanted to go to the movies. I had been invited to a party that night, but I was kind of too tired to go anyway so I agreed. The family (minus Maxi who was at home watching a movie of his own) went to the theater, but when we got there we found out that nothing we wanted to see was playing that late. Instead, we went grocery shopping in a nearby store, and then went to a fancy Chinese restaurant for dinner (we ate like super late around 10:00). We ate so much food! We had spring rolls, then sushi, then the main course of beef for them and chicken for me. I was so stuffed by the end I couldn’t even move. We drove home and I went right to sleep because it was like midnight.