July 2017 trip to Bolivia
From July 22 to July 29, Sally Heimann, chair of the Calvary mission committee, participated in the Joining Hands Reflection/Action Trip to Bolivia, where Chenoa Stock works. Chenoa is a Presbyterian mission co-worker whom Calvary has helped support for the past 7 years. Chenoa has visited Calvary three times to share her work with the congregation.
In a whirlwind week, Sally celebrated the Pachamama (the indigenous term for Mother Earth) and God’s Creation, surrounded by Lake Titicaca and the Andes Mountains, and visited the site of a melted glacier, Chacaltaya, to witness the negative effects of climate change on this once-majestic mountain.
The group traveled to Oruro, south of La Paz and learned about how the lack of enforcement of environmental laws on mining operators allows waste to flow downstream from the mine to communities, contaminating the water and causing health issues, loss of crops, and death of livestock. Don Roman and Doña Cristina,members of one of those communities, Machacamarca, shared their personal experiences of the effects of mining on their community.
The group wrapped up the week with a visit to another partner, the Foundation for Community Axion, which supports communities in learning about and assuring family food security. This is accomplished through the building of greenhouses in family homes. Several families showed the visitors their greenhouses and explained with enthusiasm the positive effects of the greenhouses.
The experience of observing Chenoa’s work was both challenging and exciting. Her work is that of “walking with” the people of Bolivia on their journey of making a better life for themselves, to “live well”. The work of “walking with” is to be present, not dictate the substance or the pace of change. While this may be challenging, it is important for all of us to consider how we can “walk with” others as they strive to “live well”.