My Bolivian child

I have a third child. He lives in Bolivia.

Okay, he’s not really my child, but I feel a bond with him nonetheless. He came to me because I followed my gut. I listened to that little voice.

In February I went to Bolivia as part of a Habitat for Humanity Global Village team. (To read more about my experiences, click the links at the bottom of the page.) While there we visited homes operated by the Bolivian Children Foundation. We met the children and toured their rooms—painted by a previous Habitat team. On the day of our first visit, I saw Mateo. (Not his real name.) The moment I saw him, I felt a powerful connection with him. I could hardly take my eyes off him. The little voice, the one that I always listen to, whispered, “You are supposed to look after that little boy.”

Crib room – painted by a Habitat for Humanity team

The staff encouraged us to chat with the children, play with them and pick them up, but I told the other members of my team, “I can’t pick him up. If I do, I won’t put him down, and I’ll have to bring him back to Canada with me.” The feeling was so strong, it frightened me. What was I supposed to do? Adopt a Bolivian toddler? My children are almost grown and my husband and I are about to embark on years of freedom. Was I supposed to bring a toddler into that mix? From Bolivia? But the feeling was so strong, I actually considered it.

As we continued to tour the facility, our hosts told us that international adoptions are not permitted in Bolivia. Okay, so that wasn’t an option. So what was I supposed to do? We left the foundation homes that day, and I still didn’t know, but I couldn’t shake the feeling.

Toward the end of our time there, when our work on the home we were helping to build was almost complete, our trip leader said, “Hey, I heard from the people at the orphanage. They are just finishing putting all the final pieces in place to allow Canadian sponsorships of their children.”

Ah, ha! So that was it. The answer had arrived. That’s the way the little voice works, it seems. It gets our attention and gives us a little nudge. If we listen to it and surrender to it, the answer always comes, sometimes in surprising ways.

Now that I’m back in Canada, if I want to feel a little connection to Bolivia, I go to the website of the Bolivian Children Foundation. All the faces on the site are faces of children I met there, children I played with and shared a meal with. I can feel their warm hugs still.

A prayer from their prayer wall, for abandoned boys and girls

Habitat for Humanity: Ghandi was right

“Inspirated” by 3 rituals

Overcoming cultural differences

Transfiguration: The perspective from a Bolivian mountaintop

Writing: Divinely inspired and humanly rendered

Paper, not plastic


About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on October 16, 2012, in Gratitude, Inspiration, Living life to the fullest, outreach and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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