Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Finally, a break....

I can't belive it's been 16 days since my last post! I have been so incredibly busy that the time has just flown by. Right now, believe it or not, I'm in Bucaramanga, a city about 8 hours from Bogota via bus. I'm here volunteering with an organization called FundaciĆ³n Esperanza Viva (Living Hope Foundation) that provides legal, psychological and spiritual assitance to patients with cancer. I just got here yesterday and have to leave tomorrow so it's a very short visit, but already I've been amazed by the work they're doing here! We met with several patients today who ranged from 11 months to 70 years old so in only one day we really got to see the extent of the work they do. Legally, they have an attorney that writes "demands" for patients who are poor and in need of assistance. These outline the fundamental human rights of the patients and how they are being violated through the neglect of basic medical care and treatment. If granted, the demands allow for transportation and medical costs to be paid in full by a combination of the patient's employer, social security and other government assistance. This literally means the difference between life and death for these patients! Just last year, 35 demands were made successfully and more are expected this year.

Alas, I'll have to try and write more about this organization later as I only have a few minutes online. I actually don't have my computer with me and am in the lobby of our hotel paying per hour for the internet. I'm absolutely exhausted and have another busy day of volunteering tomorrow. On top of that, from here, Mike and I are going to Santa Marta for 3 days, then Cartegena for 3 days and finally back to Bogota for 5 days. After that, we begin our month long journey through southern Colombia to Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru. Luckily, the stops in Santa Marta and Cartegena are just for fun so I'll finally get a chance to relax some! I've been volunteering 7 days a week which, while simply amazing, has really tested the extremes of my endurance. A week of chilling on the beach sounds incredible right about now :-)

As for the last 16 days, well, I suppose an in depth update will have to wait on that too, haha. I've actually been dying to write an update, but have not had internet access at any of the apartments I've been staying at. When I have had the chance to get online, I have so much to do with eBay and with volunteering research that 2 hours will pass and I'll have barely scratched the surface of what I need to do. Nonetheless, I have been taking tons of pictures and was able to create a Flickr account to chronicle them. While I still have tons of pictures to load and have not made individual comments on each photo yet, you can view what I've uploaded here:

My Flickr Page!

I have continued volunteering with Voces Del Silencio every weekend and you can see the pictures from the 3 concerts I've now been to. I also visited 3 RGOS computer centers last Saturday which you can see pictures from as well. While I probably won't be uploading any pictures over the next week while I'm sipping rum on the beach, lol, I will definitely be doing so as soon as I return.

In the meantime, Alison has been making some great blog entries that deal with the crisis that has been unfolding in Colombia over the last 2 weeks. I'd encourage you to read about it on her blog here:

Alison's Blog

Unfortunately, I have to get going. I miss you all and hope that all is going well. For all my youth reading this, I've been getting all the youth group emails and am glad you are all staying busy! I can't belive graduation is coming up for some of you! Keep up all the good work at church and stay in touch.

Hasta Luego!

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