In the Middle of U.S. Heat Wave, Reflecting on Bolivian Winters

My trip to Bolivia has come and gone, but much of what I saw is still in my head and, thankfully, won’t go away. Urban poverty has a unique look: shanty houses hiding behind nicer ones, planned but unpaved, muddy roads and shops to buy from but no money to spend.

I met a young boy who was born without an ear and can only hear very loud sounds. But his father’s passion for music became the boy’s, so with the help of his ChildFund sponsor he brought a set of drums. He now plays traditional music in a band on weekends and special occasions, earning money. He’s even made a CD and proudly gave me a copy.

Even though it was a national holiday when I visited, the schoolyard was packed for the opening of the Early Childhood Development center’s new classrooms and cafeteria, funded through ChildFund. About 1,000 kids will benefit - more kids attending the center and all eating their meals in a safe and clean environment. Three- and four-year-olds, attired in cultural dress, entertained the crowds. Like little kids everywhere, sometimes they remembered their dance, and sometimes not!

I’ve returned to the U.S. in the middle of a Mid-Atlantic heat wave that has brought severe storms and power outages. I think about the billion people living in poverty worldwide. They have no air-conditioners, so they don’t worry about losing power. In the heat, they get some relief as the sun sets. I also find myself reflecting on how tough life is in winter for the very poor who live in Bolivia’s high mountainous terrain. The cold nights bring special challenges to moms and dads as they struggle to keep their children warm. It’s good to put hardships in perspective.

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