After a week of little or no sleep, all of us were feeling the toll of sleep deprivation. However, I was thrust into the spotlight as I lead the morning’s dinamica, or warm-up. I chose the game Piedra, Papel, y Tijeras Evolucion (Rock, Paper, Scissors Evolution) to get everybody awake and moving. I heard a lot of laughs as I explained the game in Spanish and hopped around on the floor, As everyone played the game though, the laughs came from within the crowd as they jumped and crawled around. That was my proudest moment here- pride in my ability to speak Spanish and connect with my new friends.
Today, as our final day of work in Santa Ana, we had our Dia del Salud at a nearby school. There must have been one hundred kids there ranging from five to thirteen years old, running around full of energy. We set up stations to wash their hands and hair and also cut their nails. I´ll admit- it was a little chaotic, with kids running around with wet hair and others making a mess with the soap. The work was difficult- not just cleaning the kids but entertaining those who hadn´t been washed yet. But in the end, we cared for the majority of the children. The hard work was worth it in order to ensure the kids stayed healthy if they couldn´t do so at home.
I remember a young girl who looked about eight years old watching us work. I came up to her to ask if she wanted her hair washed, but she shyly declined. After a little persuading though, she came over and I began washing her hair. As soon as I started, I noticed an absolute infestation of lice on her scalp. It was like nothing I had ever seen before- it looked like she has had lice for years. The girl was embarrassed when I brought her over to get the lice picked out by comb, but even hours of picking couldn´t get the lice out. For me, that girl was a reminder of the extent of the poverty in Santa Ana; how not everyone is fortunate enough to have the level of care that I am used to on a regular basis.
Even though Santa Ana might be considered one of the poorest barrios of Asuncion, for me it will always be a place of community and happiness. I feel as if during this week our separate groups , the students from Santa Ana, Colegio San Jose, and us from Washington, have molded into a family. We walk together, sing Lady Gaga together, and play hand games with the kids…over…and over… and over again. My throat was hoarse by the end of today as we walked back to the community center, but I still managed to answer to screams of ´´Marrrnieeee´´ by the little kids. If I remember anything from our time in Santa Ana this week, it is that the work was worthwhile, the singing was loud, and that the smiles were many.