I've been remiss in writing for a few days but I knew this would happen at some point. No excuse, just too tired, and by the time I had time to write, it was bedtime.
I spent the past two days with Maria Ines volunteering at her soup kitchen for children called Los Pinos, up on the mountainside near where I volunteered with Sandra the first day at CCN. Los Pinos is a beautiful little site complete with a kitchen and rooftop garden! Maria Ines proudly showed me around all the vegetables and herbs that she uses regularly in her meals for the children. Of course, the views from the rooftop were spectacular as well.
Both days in the morning I performed little “consultas” or check-ups for adults and children. This site was a little slower paced, and I had a private room to see patients, which meant I had more time to address the individual needs of the patients and provide a little anticipatory guidance. Most patients had the typical complaints of runny noses, diarrhea, headaches, etc. Also a few cases of diabetes, hypertension, and one pregnant 15 year old. A lot of malnutrition in this area as well- Maria Ines was doing her part by distributing vitamins after lunch every day. On a side note, both vitamins and medications in Colombia are extremely expensive. I purchased Lamisil for an elderly diabetic man with a bad case of athlete's foot- $9 for one small tube! And $10 for a supply of 30 Caltrate+D supplements, just to give an example.
At lunch time, I had the pleasure of helping serve lunch to the twenty-five kids age 2-13 that come every day in between their school classes. The meal consisted of a “sopa” (soup), a “seco” (rice, meat, vegetables, etc), and a “sobremesa” (a dessert of juice, avena or hot beverage with sugarcane). What Maria Ines is doing every day in this remote area of Bogotá is nothing less than angelic- without her, these kids would go without lunch day after day. I felt tearful as I watched the children scarf down their food, knowing well that they would not receive the next course if they didn't clean their plate.
On Thursday, after the meal was cleaned up and the consultas were complete, we engaged in a rousing game of bowling in a tiny room at the top of the stairs. The competition was intense and the kids so excited to have the attention.
Friday's post meal activities including attempting to delouse one of the children. A packet of delousing shampoo and a comb cost approximately 90 cents, but unfortunately this child had such a bad case that I have a feeling the only treatment might be to shave her head. Makes my head itch thinking about it…
We also had time yesterday for a very participatory discussion with some of the women in the community about vaginal and breast health, nutrition, and discussing sexuality with children.
So, what has kept me from writing about these activities the last two evenings? Competitive card games with Maria Ines, Daniela and Andrea around the kitchen table! They introduced me to a game known as Smash, similar to Uno and even a modified version of Cranium, en español! Two game nights in a row… =) I feel so blessed to be staying with this beautiful family.
Today we're off to see Monserrate (the mountain in the photos from my first blogs), walk around the centro histórico, and do some shopping in town (I want to put a chip in the cheap cell phone I brought down and I also already lost my headphones…) More to come tonight or tomorrow =)