Saturday, February 16, 2008

Voces Del Silencio!

Wow, well, in true Colombian fashion, I have had absolutely no time to sit down and write an update, haha. It's really awesome here because they are so grateful that we take the time to come down that they literally have us busy all day! Last night, I wanted to write an update but got back around midnight and knew I was being picked up today at 6:30am. Tomorrow, I get to sleep in some and get picked up at 7:45am! Since it's already 2am, that doesn't leave me much time for sleep, lol. But trust me, the lack of sleep and sheer exhaustion is completely and utterly worth it! For example ( which is "por ejemplo" en espanol, which I am trying desperately to learn!), today we attended a photography workshop at a local public school where organizations were presented with digital cameras through my friend Alison McKellar's non-profit program "Lives Worth Sharing." It's an absolutely amazing program that essentially enables the poor to document their lives in a universally understandable and easily transmittable means of communication. Alison has done a ton of fund-raising and was able today to present 10 digital cameras to organizations all over Colombia in order for them to present to the world their struggles. The organizations had each sent representatives, many of which were youth. The youngest was only 9 years old and he actually gave a speech on the activities that his organization has done. It was so amazing!

Then, to top it off, we got to see a presentation by Voces Del Silencio (Voices of Silence), which is an organization of deaf-blind youth who perform and sign to popular Colombian songs. I honestly don't have the time to discuss just how special a program this is! People, especially children, suffering from these types of handicaps are essentially abandoned and ignored. Many in the program were literally abandoned on the street and adopted by caring families and placed into this organization. By allowing them to be cared about and to have a purpose through inspiring others with their courage and creativity, they have literally been given another chance at life. The last time I came to Colombia, I got to see them perform on numerous occasions. Even so, each time was no less moving. I'm not one to cry, but I couldn't help but be moved to tears by the courage these children exude and the sheer unadulterated happiness they get from being able to perform and be cared about.

Plus, they've become very popular in the last few years, even appearing on television and being able to perform live to some of Colombia's most popular artists. Last time I was here, I was fortunate enough to see them perform with Tinto (who you obviously have never heard of, but is muy popular aqui, haha). I have a video of this concert that was held at the biggest mall in Bogota that you can watch:

video

Alas, this is just an example of the amazing experiences that are here in Colombia! And this all happened before noon, haha. Then we had lunch with all the performers, went to the Botanical Garden of Colombia - which was truly stunning - and got to meet with several other organizations in the afternoon. Whew!

Well, unfortunately, in order to have some energy tomorrow, I have to go to bed. I will definitely find time when I can to send updates though. I have received several emails and want to let everyone know that I really appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers! I'm so happy that I can share my experiences with everyone and that you all can keep updated from thousands of miles away! It's so exciting and enriching to be here and it makes it all the more better that you all can experience it with me! :-)

Buenas noches mis amigos!

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