Hillary Merwin
Hillary Merwin
Colombia 2013
Hola! My travels are taking me to Bogotá, Colombia where I will be spending six months volunteering with a community development organization called Fundación Comunidad Viva by tutoring children in after-school programs, planning community events, leading camps and much more. Join me on this adventure! Read More About Hillary →

One week in Pacho

This past week has been crazy to say the least! Through Fundación Comunidad Viva, we took a team to Pacho for five days of outreach. Pacho is a small town about a 2 hour drive from Bogotá up into the Andes Mountains. This is our third year in Pacho and we are really seeing how the community is changing and coming closer together. What started as a week of vacation bible school for the kids has expanded to a crafting outreach for local mothers, an opportunity to serve through construction projects, and a new addition this year, a video workshop for the teens.


The week was an incredible success. Here’s just a brief glimpse and some of the things that happened.


After our team of about 20 from Bogotá (which grew later in the week as we called in even more reinforcements!) arrived in Pacho on Sunday, we immediately got to work spreading the word about Supervacas (the name of our vacation bible school). Our method? Piling 12 people in a car and driving down one of the main roads, blasting music and handing out fliers to children and families we passed on the street. Later that night we visited the basketball court near the center of town and talked to some of the teens about the video workshop. Even later that evening many of the volunteers stayed up until 2 a.m. cutting pieces of wood for the compost box craft the next day.


The kids began arriving a little before 9 and just like that, Supervacas was in full swing with 70 children singing and dancing to the live  music. They had a blast creating their compost boxes and learning about recycling (the week’s theme joined the idea of recycling with the story of Job). We spent the afternoon with the mothers who sewed together felt handbags while about 20 teenagers came to the first video workshop! Each group of teens had to come up with their own idea for a 2-minute silent film and then go out and create it with hand-held cameras! All the while, a few of us helped out with a construction project–renovating the kitchen of one of the families in the area.


Today’s craft had the kids covering soda bottle airplanes with glue and paste. Newspaper covered the floor and everyone was very sticky by the end of the day but it was an absolute blast. In the afternoon, the women made intricate necklaces while the teenagers began writing and filming clips for two minute silent videos! It was so fun to see them around the school and town making the videos.

Los aviones reciclados!

Time for the mothers
































Wednesday was a very special day. Usually Supervacas is all about the little ones but tonight was about the teens. We planned a big fogata (bonfire) for the teenagers of Pacho. The word spread on Facebook and at about 7 p.m., the schoolyard was full of people roasting marshmallows around the roaring fire, mingling and meeting new friends, and dancing to the awesome live music from our very talented musicians! The celebration went until 11 and by the end of it, everyone was completely exhausted from salsa dancing (and maybe some fist-pumping American dancing, too 😉 ). It was great to offer an alternative kind of party and it seemed like everyone had a great time!



Another great day of Supervacas. The kids painted their airplanes and in the afternoon, the women enjoyed a kind of spa day–learning how to take care of their nails, and getting facials and massages!

Painting some planes

























We had 110 kids on the last day of Supervacas. We definitely saved the best craft for last. Some of the guys formed the structure of a car out of recycled metal (no easy task!) and cut cardboard to cover the outside of the “vehicle.” The kids painted their pieces to resemble the spots of a car and when all was said and done, we had ourselves and real life Vacamobile (“vaca” in Spanish means cow)!

Now I’m back in Bogotá and so excited for everything this church and nonprofit are doing! More updates to come soon!


The finished product!

Aftermath of the water war

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