(Second part of the testimony that we send you in three different moments)
Choir and first communion catechesis:
We started together with Bro. Pontien a choir, and in turn I also committed myself to be a catechist for a group of 17 children who wanted to receive their first communion sacrament, but the momentum lasted two weekends because our country was quarantined by the COVID-19, a little insecure and assuming a reality that we thought was going to be temporary became 7 months where group meetings were allowed with a limited number of people and where holding something virtual was not a possibility because of the conditions in which a significant group of families live in the sector.
Prayer in the Cuadra
In the first weeks of the quarantine, the mission team came up with the idea of organizing some activity that would allow us to be united with the neighbors and strengthen the spiritual area, and we called this new idea the “Prayer on the block”, we called the neighbors and Mr. Robinson, who belonged to a different religion along with his family.
One Thursday in March we began to call neighbors to come out of their homes and we, with Vane, animated the songs with the cununo and the Bombo (a learning process). Each week two neighbors were in charge of the Bible reading and its reflection. In addition, a basket was placed in the center of the block where each neighbor contributed with something from the market to help one of the families that participated in the prayer. This activity generated excitement and gave us peace because we trusted that God was going to protect us from COVID-19.
We spent three months meeting from the doors of our homes so that once a week in the afternoon we would share the gospel and some of the food that arrived in our neighborhood. In this way we got to know our neighbors Karen, Luna, Laura, Yolanda, Don Jose and his family, Don Esau (who lent the extensions and the microphone), Alexandra and her little Juan (who lent the sound), Mrs. Sandra (who allowed us to connect the sound in her house), Mrs. Maria, etc.
Markets Full of Solidarity
In mid-April we received a financial donation to give markets to 35 families affected by COVID-19, AFRO families were selected from the neighborhood, who were nominated by the Afro group led by Father Franco for more than 4 years. This market contained a prayer inside for the families to thank God for the people who had contributed money inside and outside the country for the purchase of these markets. This activity allowed us to meet more families living inside and outside our neighborhood.
Termination of my Contract
My contract was for three months, and when the contract ended there was no possibility that it would be renewed, the situation scares me but thank God those months were paid and with that money I could support myself for two more months. Then came my birthday and I received money from my blood family and my spiritual family (community Señor de los Milagros de Tauramena/ Casanare). In this way I was able to sustain myself until July.
Donation of a printer and school accompaniment.
At the end of April, a relative of Vanesa donated us the money to buy a printer and in this way help some families in the neighborhood with the online education of their children, we contacted teachers of second and third grade of the Buenos Aires Educational Institution, and with a group of five children (Dibisay, Juan Sebastian, Jhovanni, Laura and Javier) started in the apartment a school accompaniment, these children were two of second grade and three of third grade. They came to the apartment in the mornings and afternoons we proposed to work in order to be leveled, by the end of June the goal was achieved and we had a picnic as a prize.
The requirements that these five children met were as follows:
- That their family did not have access to internet data.
- Not to have the help of a person to explain the topics.
- They should always come bathed, with clean clothes and eaten breakfast and/or lunch.
- Comply with the schedule 10 am to 12 pm and 1:30 to 5:00 pm.
- To leave their suitcase with all the supplies at my house so they did not carry their suitcase every day (I made sure we always had all the materials to work with).
- Leaving the space in the apartment where we did our homework clean.
- Not disrespecting each other.
- Behave like smart kids to learn and get good grades.
In addition to this, thanks to the printer, 10 families would pick up printed guides after five in the afternoon, so that the children could work from home. One child came once a week for me to take the evidence of the solved activities and send it to the grade director.
In July, two new girls (Jondarlys and Sharick) joined the school reinforcement program, they were also behind and were in third grade, so I set up a schedule in the morning from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm and in the afternoon I received only three children, because when Laura and Juan Sebastian were leveled, they began to work from home on the two daily guides sent by the teachers. In that month of July, we started a construction of a house and Marisol (Laywoman) supported the school reinforcement from her house. In August I resumed the school support with three new children in the morning schedule (Paula, Shari and Adrian) two of second grade and one of third grade, and in the afternoon we attended all the children of third grade who were up to date with homework, by then there were 5 children, from this month some parents according to their needs made me a contribution of 15 or 20 thousand pesos per week and thus helped me with my expenses.
At the beginning of September, the group expanded, now I had 6 children in the morning (Shari, Jordanys, Gabriela, Nicol, Paula), who belonged to different grades; first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth. Then I had to look for someone to support me and God sent Natalia, a girl from the neighborhood who was 20 years old and had already worked with children. The afternoon group expanded and now there were 6 children (Jhovanni, Adrian, Jondarlys, Luis Ferney, Javier and Victoria). The processes here became more challenging because Jordanys and Shari did not know how to read and we proposed to start the process of teaching reading and writing.
By the end of October, Elvin, a third grader from another institution, joined the program and the challenge was to help him save the year, so by the second week of November this process was completed with two children in the morning and four in the afternoon. Only Jhovanni, 9 years old, was there from the beginning to the end of this experience.
The school support became a process where some children learned to read, write, do reading comprehension, color and work judiciously to meet the daily goals. They were months of laughter, tension, frustration tolerance, field trips (every month we did an integration excursion with the children who were there), a process where you help children not to lose a school year, to do good quality work, they were months of love and details. These children gave meaning to my mission because their witticisms, their personalities, gave meaning to my weeks. God bless each one of them and their families, and keep them safe from harm.
Alexandra Garcia, CLM Group of Colombia