Tuesday 4/27/10

April 29, 2010 at 3:49 am Leave a comment

Today was a full full day. Osvaldo, the administrator of the elderly home San Martin de Porres, is only in Cordoba at that home on Tuesdays and Thursdays because he spends Mondays and Wednesdays at the other home he runs in Villa de Soto which is a 3-4 hour drive away. Osvaldo is an incredible man…jolly, happy, and completely devoted to the people he helps. He is a man of the church, and runs the homes through the church, completely reliant on donations. Donations for rent, for electricity, for food, etc. He has been working in this sense for decades, and has saved a lot of people’s lives because of it. He’s rescued people who were homeless, living in barns like animals, alcoholics, etc. who he brought into the home and taught them what true love and self-responsibility is. I have been looking forward to meeting him for several months now, since Ariel told me about him and the work he does back in December. Well, because Ariel worked until 3pm, we had the afternoon to see a bit of Cordoba since we hadn’t got a chance to yet. We went downtown and walked around a bit, and then I took my dad and Eason to the old clandestine building near the main Plaza San Martin in the middle of Cordoba, that was used as a secret holding place for the “prisoners” during the Process. The Process was going on from the mid seventies into the early eighties when the military government kidnapped people who were involved in teaching about and working in jobs that exposed the atrocities that were happening at that time. This included lawyers, teachers, students, and anyone else who realized that the way the military was running the government was wrong and started to spread the idea of socialism. 30,000 people disappeared during that era, and were taken out to places in the surrounding mountains and forests and killed, their bodies never to be found. While there, we met an amazing man who had been kidnapped and spent 8 1/2 years imprisoned by that government. He was so lucky to have survived, and to this day he works at the building, known as D2. The building is run as a museum and reminder to all of what happened…how many Argentines were kidnapped, tortured, raped and killed because of their opposition to the military government. It is run mostly by survivors of the era and children of people who disappeared. It was very intense, but also very valuable to learn about since it was a huge part of the nation’s history.

I got the contact information for the man who spoke with us, Juan Carlos, and told him about our efforts with Los Abuelitos. I told him that we aimed to bring volunteers here to work with the elders, and he offered to give talks to the volunteers who come here and teach them about this period. It is very important to me that the people who come to volunteer are obviously interested in the country, culture, and history of the place they are volunteering…in this case, Argentina. So it would be great if we could integrate that presentation by Juan Carlos into the volunteer program through Los Abuelitos. The tour guide, Ruben, from Sunday also offered to provide tours and informational sessions to our volunteers in order to help them learn more about the city and country. The more various contacts we have, the better and more well-rounded the experience will be for the volunteers here in Cordoba.

At 4:00 we met up with Ariel and hoped on the colectivo, the bus, to the barrio Villa Rivera Indarte where Osvaldo’s home is. After the hour bus ride from the downtown area, we finally arrived, walked down a dirt road, and came to the cute little house set back among trees. An adorable man named Ruben (not the tour guide!), greeted us in the yard, who has down-syndrome and was taken in by Osvaldo and his family when he was 20, abandoned by his mother and his brother, and after his father died. He had no one, and so went to live in one of those places that was set up in a barn for people: elders, homeless, alcoholics, etc., that need a place to live but don’t have money (and tons of it per month) to pay for a private home or rehabilitation center. Osvaldo found him there, and raised him as his own, surrounded by his own children. Anyways, we had a seat in his kitchen, passed around the mate’, and began a conversation which lasted about 2 hours. He wanted to know exactly what our mission was, how we intended to help, and what we expected of him and our relationship. He was incredibly organized, and was on the same exact page in terms of the volunteers and rules about how things would run. He’s been hosting volunteers from another local organization that hosts international students, and so already has a great deal of experience with volunteers, which is great for us. After our little, long chat, we finally got to see the house and meet the people who lived there.

Apparently, there usually are 10-12 people living in the house, but at this time there are only seven because some have passed away over the last several months. This place is just as run down, if not more, than San Jorge, and the elders are just as cute and wanting of attention and help. They were so welcoming and happy to see us there, and I just wanted to take them all in my arms, cuddle them, and tell them everything was going to be okay. At the same time, I could tell that they were as well taken care of as possible by Osvaldo.

The rooms were extremely lacking and terrible. There were spiders running around on all the walls in the bedrooms, the blankets had many holes and were old and fading, and the bathroom was even worse. The toilet didn’t even have a seat! No handles or equipment to help bathing and going to the bathroom easier, and no shower curtain either. The bed frames are rusted and the pillow cases were plastic bags. I could not wait to start working on this home. And it was cold in there too! Thursday we are going back and bringing all the blankets, clothes, bath goods, etc, and I can’t wait to see the faces on them! They are going to get new sheets, comforters, pillow cases, clothes, and so forth and they really truly deserve it.

After our lovely time at San Martin, we rushed back to Ariel’s home where his family was waiting for us to make dinner. They went out and got a bunch of meat, all different kinds and cuts, to make a proper Argentina asado, or parrilla, for us. There was SO MUCH MEAT. And with it salad, bread, cheese, chicken with vegetable salad, and lots and lots of wine! And some Grido (the best) ice cream for dessert and a fernet and coke to finish off the evening! The dinner was incredible, and what was even more incredible was spending the evening with Ariel, his son, his brother, his parents and his sister-in-law and niece and nephew. It was a classic example of how united families should be, instead of abandoning their parents to be found in a barn by Osvaldo. It was fantastico.

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Monday 4/26/10 Wednesday 4/28

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