In July I was privileged to tour Medellín’s Moravia neighborhood, constructed over a city dump. The original residents were garbage pickers, & some of them still live there. The dump itself has been built up into a grassy park with flower plantings, a large greenhouse (for flowers only, as the soil is too toxic to grow healthy vegetables/fruits), & a historical walking route with photo markers telling the community’s story.
(a) It’s a rather strenuous climb! (b) Images of the original dump. (c) Hillside garden. (d) The neighborhood is colorfully charming nowadays, though there’s still lots of poverty.
I was taken to visit a couple of preschools where children had heard & discussed Los ángeles de Adriana, my picture book about a Colombian refugee child & the guardian angels who accompany her. The Mama Chila school, named for its founder, was an incredibly inviting space. For my session with the children, the staff decorated with rocks because many of the kids were taken with the symbol of mean words as sharp little stones that “rattle around and hurt.”
Slips of paper were placed over some of the rocks. They bore quotes from the kids themselves:
- The angels always accompany the little girl, because she can’t take care of herself alone.—Jampool (try pronouncing that in Spanish, but with an English-style J; you’ll realize that he’s named for a former pope!)
- The rocks came into her from the children who didn’t want to play with her.—Dylan
- I didn’t like the children who were treating Adriana badly, because they weren’t respecting her and their parents didn’t teach them to be kind.—Isis
- Adriana’s angels always stay with her and help her to sleep.—Jhostin
- The little stones fell off her bed because . . .—Valery; because the angels took them away!—Isis
These children had found a new way to talk about the pain that our words can inflict on each other. I am so happy to know that Los ángeles de Adriana has enriched their emotional vocabulary.
I also had the privilege of meeting a remarkable community songwriter, doña Efigenia, age 80. She is often sick, and her rustic little home is constantly filled with humidity because of drips from the roof. Hear an excerpt of one of her songs here, & consider donating to help put a new roof over her head. She lives in deep poverty & really needs our help. In dollars it won’t cost much at all!
Thank you for caring!