La fiesta de los niños de la calle

Svenn and Marius have attended a big party for all the street children of Santa Cruz. Marius tells the story:
The day started with a search and pickup job. We went to the marked I wrote about in my last post to look for the children we had invited a few days before. What made me really happy was that we actually found the boys we didn’t find a few days ago. We gather a total of thirteen children in a taxi (Yeah it is possible), but when the taxi driver didn’t agree on the price all of the children had to go out again. Suddenly eight of them were gone, and we decided that I should take the ones we had and go to the party. Marius and the educadora stayed to find the others in order to come to the party later.

I found myself sitting in a taxi with five street children and an unhappy taxi driver. He didn’t really want kids smelling like shit in his car. That I understood, but he went anyway. With one kid on my lap and four others in the back I remembered that I didn’t know the address. Like everything in this world, things have an solution. So had this problem. One of the kids in the back offered kindly to help and I put all my faith in that this kid knew what he was telling the taxi driver. I then started, unsure if we were driving in the right direction, my process of getting to know this kids a bit more. Smiling, laughing and joking.

We made it to the party without any more problems and I could lower my shoulders for now. The party had everything a party should have. Activities, workshops, soda, food, presents and more. Both me and the children had a great time. I got an unique opportunity to get to know them and at the same time have a lot of fun. Fantastic!

A part of the party was to go to a place where the kids could eat and sleep. Everyone were invited to join this part as well but not everyone wanted. As I was walking to the combi I found a kid laying on the ground bleeding a lot from his face. It was blood everywhere. A lot of kids and other volunteers stood around watching unsure of what had happened. I had no clue, but I offered to treat the boy with my first-aid kit which I had in my backpack. With my hands shaking I started to clean away all the blood in his face. I found that he had been cut right over his eye, and I cleaned the wound properly. After a while the bleeding stopped and I finished my work with a piece of bandage.

Again relieved that things went well, I got myself into the combi. Here I sat down with about fifteen other kids. Some girls with small kids, some small boys and some older. Me as the only “gringo” in the car got tested if I really could stand the pressure of being with them. They were hitting me with all the street talk you can imagine. This is hard to explain, but the street children have their ways of testing you. Luckily they never found my breaking point. They gave up just after a few minutes.

After a few minutes with normal talk, the smell of glue became intensively strong. Almost everyone were sniffing. The mothers, the little boys and the older ones. Right next to me. I almost got drugged myself because of the smell. It was a strange feeling sitting there. Very strange. Everyone were looking at me trying to find out who is this strange norwegian. We all looked at each other communicating without words.

We arrived just in time for me to avoid a big headache. It was like I had been holding my breath for hours without really doing so. Fresh air in my lungs was a great feeling at this point. I went again to join the final part of the party.

This part was the most interesting for me. First, I got a great introduction to another project which is working with street children. Second, I got to have several longer conversations with the kids. I had a great time. 

The strangest thing was when the party finished. The ones who didn’t want to stay said goodbye to me as they were leaving a normal type of party. The girls with the normal kiss on the chin and the boys with a firm handshake. Seeing them leave out that door going back to the street made me a bit sad, but I know I will see them out there in the street again. This is the children I am working with. These children living the life on the street of Santa Cruz.

Read more: Thoughts from Bolivia, Reisebrev frå Marius (Norwegian)

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