To the incredible mothers and fathers of Bolivia,
This journey has been an opportunity to give a voice for the voiceless. To put a spotlight on the unseen. To shed light on what life is like through the eyes of Bolivians. I hope that I have shared and will continue to share your stories with the accuracy and thoughtfulness that they deserve.
To the mothers who pray daily for the health and future of their children -- you are the fortitude of your families. To the mothers who battle cultural discrimination because their children are born with disabilities -- you are women of strength. To the mothers who took in children who were not their own because no one else would -- you are brave. To Celestina whose son Wilfram was born with a heart condition and down syndrome – I count you full of courage for never giving up hope in his life or in God.
When Celestina told us of the hardship she went through with her son Wilfram's disabilities, she cried. And we cried with her because of her strength and faith in God. ©2011 Amy Conner for World Vision
In Tiraque ADP, more than 40 moms meet at this nutritional center every week to discuss the health of their children. ©2011 Amy Conner for World Vision
To the fathers who have considered leaving their families for the sake of a better financial future, but haven't -- you are men of faith. To the fathers who work 16-hour days to ensure that their children have something to eat, and even then it’s not always enough -- you are worthy of blessing. To the men like 23-year-old Justino who became father-figures for their own orphaned siblings as a teenager because their parents abandoned them -- you are an example of love.
When Justino was 14-years-old, he became a father-figure to his 1-year-old sister. He is pictured here, 9 years later, with his wife, their two daughters, and his siter. ©2011 World Vision
To the mothers and fathers I have met on this journey, it has been an absolute pleasure to get a glimpse into your lives. Getting to know what daily life looks like for you, through all its struggles and all its joys, has been an honor and privilege.
Although I’ve learned a great deal in this past week about myself, this journey was never about me. It was not meant for my own benefit. This trip was about you, and what God is doing in your communities and hearts. His love is what is breaking down the bonds of abuse, gender discrimination, and brokenness. And what joy it has been to see your communities empowered to make the future brighter for your children, all because of your determination and perseverance.
In Colomi ADP, children and parents work together to find sustainability in their community. ©2011 Matthew Paul Turner for World Vision
I will never forget that working against poverty means working in partnership with your families that live on $1 a day. My responsibility to share your story will never be finished. By sharing your stories of struggle, my hope and prayer is that more children will be sponsored, because it is through sponsorship that basic needs in your communities can be met.
Thank you for taking the time to tell me your stories, and to share your hopes and dreams for the future. I will continue to carry your stories of hope, love, faith, and determination in my heart, and I am humbled to do so. May the peace of Jesus reside in your home and among your loved ones.
May your hearts be blessed as you have blessed mine,
Discoveries of a Wanderer, Beliefnet.com
Read more posts from the Bolivia bloggers team.