Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Returning to Chile

Posted on behalf of Andrea Waters

This is my third trip to Chile in my 20 plus years at Children International. The first time I visited, the country was just beginning to find its way after so many years under the rule of Pinochet.

Today Chile has a burgeoning middle class enjoying better employment opportunities allowing them the income to purchase newer, larger homes. You see the new housing divisions popping up everywhere. Yet there are still so many suffering in older neighborhoods and squatter areas.

For those with less education and lacking skills, work can be difficult to find, or seasonal at best.

Even though it is spring here, the cooler mornings bring out the children in sweaters, colorful hats and their distinctive rosy round cheeks.

I love that the families we encounter, although quite poor, still have a resourceful and wonderful spirit.

On Tuesday we met Waldo, a proud grandfather who used to build homes. That is, until a recent health crisis left him partially disabled.

His wife, Maria, does laundry for others. During our visit she was finishing up laundry for a soccer team! Bright yellow jerseys were hung neatly in two rows. Between their two meager incomes, they support their family. Their daughter, Soledad, volunteers for Children International – usually helping the children write letters and helping clean the community center. They all work hard to support their family unit, all centered around little Jennifer, a precocious sponsored 5-year-old.

Our group is headed back out to visit more communities and children today. We will have more to share with you tomorrow.

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