A Little Contribution


            My trip to La Paz, Bolivia in the summer of 2009 made such an impact on my life that when Kaya Children International invited me down again the following summer, I immediately accepted the offer. While last year’s main goal was to become familiar with the organization and to offer afternoon activities for the street children, this year’s goal was entirely different—painting a mural. Kaya Children had just recently bought a new, larger school building. The size of this new building made the purchase well worth the money but the appearance lacked that same appeal.

            The wall which I was to paint measured 25 meters long and 3 meters high; this is the equivalent of around 82 by 10 feet. I planned ahead of time to paint four cartoon kids and a dog playing soccer because soccer is an important part of the street kids’ lives. Since my five cartoon figures wouldn’t be enough to cover a huge wall I was also requested to paint a nature scene.

            When I arrived at the school building on a Monday I began to as soon as I bought the paint. On the first day, one staff member and I were single-handedly trying to paint a wall. We worked for 3 hours and managed only to outline the figures and a tree—clearly the wall would not be finished within my time frame of one week if only two people were to work on it. I left the first day discouraged that I wouldn’t be able to see the finished product by the time I went home.

            My arrival at 3:00 the next afternoon surprised, and encouraged, me. Two of the other volunteers had painted the city of La Paz nestled high in the Andes Mountains. As the week progressed, they painted features which were special to Bolivia. Mt. Illimani, the highest mountain in Bolivia, appeared; the pink dolphins in the Amazon River were painted; the llama, which Bolivia and Peru are infamous for; Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake, made its way onto the wall; and the yungas (jungles) and the salt plains were also incorporated. We were able to see all the features that are special to Bolivia and let the kids be proud of their country.

           While the last few features of the wall were still in the process of being painted when I left on early Saturday morning, they sent me pictures to see they work that had been done. When I look at pictures of the wall, I see that I really did very little since I painted only the cartoon figures and a few plants, but it’s also encouraging because I was able to transform the wish for a mural from simply a dream to reality.