Archive for May, 2010

Friday April 30th- Countdown to Homeward Bound

After a breakfast of coffee and medialunas (little croissants the Argentines eat every day), we headed out with Lili to do some souvenir shopping downtown. Lili was going to class to become a Notary, but she said she hadn’t missed one class all term and she’s allowed three misses, so she played hooky to take us shopping! :) We found some beautiful jewelry, leather goods and other gifts for friends and family. After we were done shopping for gifts, we wanted to buy some pillows for Osvaldo’s homes because what they were sleeping on for a pillow was atrocious. They must have used them for decades and they were so flat and smelly that they were probably making these people sick. So we went pillow shopping…and pillows are not cheap! But we finally found some that were decently priced, 40 pesos a pillow, and bought 16 of them, 8 for each home. They were a huge step up from what they were using now, that’s for sure. So after dropping almost $175 on pillows, we hurried back to the hotel to finish packing up. On our way through the city, there was a huge protest going on in the streets by the factory workers. They were chanting and marching with big signs that basically said, pay us more because we can’t afford the basic necessities that we are making in the factories! It was quite a racket, but really interesting to see. Protests are practically daily occurrences in that country, so it was cool to actually witness one.

After we packed up everything at the hotel (much less than what we came with obviously), we went to Los Boulevares to drop the pillows at Ariel’s house because unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to bring them to San Martin ourselves. Ariel is going to bring them over to Osvaldo on Tuesday when he’s there and then will bring the remaining pillows along with the other supplies and clothes up to Soto when he goes there. We stopped by Cesar and Lili’s house to say a promised farewell to them and Lili’s mother, and then they finally packed us in a taxi for our final cab ride to the airport. Once there, we had a last couple of Argentine snacks before boarding the plane and saying hasta luego to the town that we step foot in barely a week earlier.

It was a short trip, but a lot got done, and successfully. Unfortunately, there is never time for everything, but we were able to get working with two more homes and provide an updated bathroom and more comfortable, clean beds for the people who lived there. But there is always much more to do, which is why I really hope people start realizing that they can truly make a difference and have a hand in improving the lives of these elders. Any skill or interest you have and want to bring to enlighten this amazing group of people, please contact me asap to discuss how we can make it happen. Remember, Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” So now is the time to act on it and make it a reality. Please be in touch and thank you for following our week-long adventure.

Sincerely and with much thanks,

Jennifer Levy

Founder/President

Los Abuelitos

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May 3, 2010 at 3:41 am Leave a comment

End of Thursday 4/29/10

Unfortunately, we only had a few hours to spend at Osvaldo’s home with the elders and fixing up the rooms as much as we could. Liliana and Cesar were expecting us for lunch at 1:30pm so we had to get going. If we had more time, it would’ve been great to paint the bedrooms and add a little color to the place…as well as putting up pictures or other things. The walls were completely bare and in dire need of a cleaning and painting. The outside was also screaming for a power wash, but hopefully there will be volunteers in the future that will be willing to do this work for them. So after many hugs, kisses and goodbyes, we left San Martin, with Ruben, Osvaldo, and one of the other men waving at us from outside the gate until we rounded the corner in the taxi. Unfortunately we weren’t able to make the 4 hour trip to Soto, but the good news is that Ariel will be going up there in the next few weeks with Osvaldo to take pictures, meet the elders, take a survey of the place and their needs, and gather the information we need. It really sounds like we’re going two have two distinct, great places for volunteers of all kinds to go and help.

After a lunch of matambre (Argentine pot roast) with Liliana, Cesar, Candelaria and Lili’s mom, we ran back to the hotel to change before going over to Augusto’s, the lawyer’s, house for dinner. He had invited us over to meet his family and was planning on making another huge asado, but we were asado-ed out, and so said pizza would be fine! It was such a sweet offer and I’m so glad we went. Augusto’s wife, Julie, is a psycologist and works in a geriatric home. She was very interested in Los Abuelitos and really wanted to talk about how she could get involved. It was great to have the opportunity to sit down with her and discuss what she knows so well and has years of experience in: working with the elders. Psychology is just as important as any physical healthcare and I’m really hoping with her involvement now, we can also encourage psychologist and psychiatrist volunteers to go down and work with the elders, as well as psychology students who can be overseen and taught by Julie. I really hope that she can follow through with this, because I know she’d be a great asset to the organization.

We made it an “early” night (10:30) and then went back to the hotel since we were meeting Liliana downtown for breakfast at 8:30 on Friday morning, our final day in Cordoba! With tummies full of yummy pizza and delicious Malbec, we said gracias and buenas noches!

May 3, 2010 at 3:39 am Leave a comment

Thursday 4/29/10

Today was delivery day!!! After waiting all week to bring all the donations we had schleped to Argentina, we finally were able to bring them to the people they were intended for, the elders. Ariel had decided to take the day off from work and so met us at the hotel at 9:30 am. We still needed to pick up a couple last minute things that we weren’t able to find last night because we had to be back for the meeting. So we headed next store to the shopping center, and got two shower curtains (they had no curtains in addition to no toilet seats at Osvaldo’s homes), two shower rods to hang the curtains (one at San Martin in Cordoba and another for the home in Soto), and a cooking pot for San Martin. After we collected these final items, and still bummed we couldn’t find backless shower chairs anywhere, we headed back to the hotel to load up two taxis FULL, in the trunk and the car, of all the donations we brought from the States and the stuff we bought the day before. We squished ourselves in along with the bags, and headed on over for the half hour drive to the San Martin de Porres home in Villa Rivera Indarte in the overloaded taxi like sardines. When we arrived, Ruben, the adorable little man that was taken in by Osvaldo and raised as his own, was waiting for us at the gate, and the others were sitting out on the front patio in the sun. One of the first things I noticed is that all the elders, and Ruben, were wearing the same clothes they had on on Tuesday when we went over there the first time. This completely broke my heart. Osvaldo had told us that each person has a bath twice a week (!!!), but I didn’t inquire about the clothes. The good news is that we brought them a whole bunch of new stuff that they will be able to wear and enjoy comfortably. We had gone into the adjoining part of the house where they are slowly fixing the place to make more room for more beds and a bathroom as workers can volunteer their time, and they had bags of old clothes. But when I looked closer, I noticed they were all ragged and old and smelled of dank mold, so I’m really really glad we were able to bring them new stuff, and clothes of much better quality than they could buy there even if they had the money. We were separating all the donations we brought, when I took out a Columbia jacket someone had given, and Ariel’s eyes got so wide and he said that that brand is sooo expensive and good that no one in Argentina wears it. And if we’ve worn it and don’t have use for it anymore, we don’t think twice about giving it away. It really warmed my heart that we were able to provide such necessities, while at the same time being able to include some “luxury” quality items as well :)

So as we were separating things out for both the San Martin home and the Soto home, my dad went to work improving the bathroom with the things we had bought. He installed the toilet seat, put up the shower rod and hung the curtain, placed the foldable toilet chair over the toilet, and then put a bath rug down that was donated…I almost cried…it looked like a brand new bathroom and one that these people would have never dreamed of, and it was only a matter of a shower curtain, toilet seat and mobile toilet chair to really make these people’s lives easier and more comfortable.

Meanwhile, I put Eason to work stripping the beds of these overused, gross blankets and sheets that were all holey and smelled like they had been used and worn down for years and years. We remade ALL the beds with new, crisp donated sheets, comforters that these people have never dreamed of seeing, and pillow cases that weren’t almost see-through because of how long they’d been used. After we were done, I brought each elder in to feel and sit on their new beds, complete with bottom and top sheets, a comforter and a fleece blanket…I knew they would sleep good tonight and for the nights to come. The best part is that there were several extra pillow cases and sheets, so they could be switched out or could be taken to Soto. Must go now, my internet is almost out!

May 3, 2010 at 3:38 am Leave a comment


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