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 →

A week of service

This week, we continued our work serving the Alturo family while their daughter recovers from surgery.

Here’s what a typical day looks like:

10am-12pm: Maria Paula and I cook both lunch and dinner. Usually something like chicken breast, baked potatoes, a salad, plantains, etc.


Maria Paula, an expert chef!

Smelling good!

Packing up the food!

Getting the food ready to transport

12pm-12:30pm: The long trek to the Transmilenio station. Because our apartment is up in the mountains, think lots and LOTS of stairs.

The trip down is easier than the one coming back!

The trip down is easier than the one coming back!

12:30pm-1pm: Ride the Transmilenio (bags full of food and all) to the family’s house. While I’m so thankful for this cheap source of transportation, it’s not always the most comfortable ride, to say the least. This might give you an idea:

It's a tad crowded at times

It’s a tad crowded at times

1pm-5pm: Serve lunch and watch the children while the parents spend time at the hospital with their daughter.

Liz, their other little girl

Liz, their other daughter. Love this little one!

5pm-5:30: Ride the Transmilenio back home and relax for a bit before heading to the grocery store to prepare to do it all again!

This Friday was an especially fun day. We found out that Janneth, the mother, holds a mini Ciudad Corazón every Friday in her living room. Ciudad Corazón is a program Fundación Comunidad Viva developed as a way for people in dangerous or broken neighborhoods to get to know each other and form a more solid community. Ciudad Corazón is usually a series of block parties put on by the foundation with music, food, singing, dancing, etc., then someone from the neighborhood takes it over and continues the meetings!

In Janneth’s case, she saw a need in her neighborhood amongst the children and took the initiative to start inviting them over to her apartment every Friday afternoon for a time of sharing, arts and crafts, storytelling, and even snacks!

While Janneth was at the hospital, Maria Paula and I waited to see if any kids would show up to the house. Sure enough, 5 little ones came knocking at the door and we spent the next 2 hours improvising our own Ciudad Corazón. I of course forgot to bring my camera but I can tell you there was a lot of singing and dancing to Youtube videos and crafts galore!

It was so fun getting to know the kids in this neighborhood (now that we are spending so much time here) and getting to hear their stories and everything that’s going on in their lives. All of them are close friends with Laura, too so we spent some time sharing how we all felt about her being in the hospital and our hopes for a speedy recovery!

These times have been so rewarding, getting to know the family and serving them in this way. Their little girl, Laura, had a successful surgery to remove the tumor but is now in a process of a lengthy recovery as her family awaits to hear if she needs another surgery.

We have another week and a half of serving the family after which I will move into a different role within the foundation. I am so thankful for this opportunity and excited to see what next month brings!

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