Jul 222014

Now that I have an understanding of the entire city I am being challenged again as I have agreed to work in another project with a women’s cooperative.  I visited the first time with one of the representatives from the Volunteer network when the coop was celebrating their 8th year anniversary.  It was quite the party with live music, good food, and a puppet show for the kids.

Kids watching the puppet showPuppet show audience

This cooperative serves a very poor neighborhood, where there is little work especially for the women.  This group got together to develop their own work programs and solicit support from the government.  One group is responsible for making things like back packs for school children.  While the government supplies the back packs they were previously buying them from China and giving them to the children.  Now these women make the back packs and the government buys them from the coop.  They also have a group that does some silkscreening on shirts and bags, etc.  and a group that does cleaning for public buildings and offices.

Women's Coop

This is a very poor neighborhood, or barrio on the south side of Cordoba.  It takes 2 buses and more than an hour to get there.  I really expected my second visit, made on my own, to be a challenge but I managed ok getting there.  Unfortunately upon my arrival I learned they were only having a meeting that day and that there would be no activities.  Communication is not great in Argentina even if you speak the language and certainly, I do not think the volunteer network would have asked me to attend if they knew it was only a meeting, but what the hell, I figured I would make the best of it.

It is interesting to witness a meeting when you don’t really know the language.  I will readily admit that there was little I understood during this discourse but the group dynamics were certainly evident.  First there was the coordinator who initiated discussion, and had a meeting topics list.  There was also a secretary taking notes and as the meeting went along it became obvious who were the leaders, the complainers the supporters etc. and really I did not understand much of the discussion, but everyone understands tone, and eye rolls even in another language.  It was fun for a while then I excused myself to watch the neighborhood kids play futbol on a dusty lot; little boys vying for status among their peers.  I noticed that one little boy was really quite good at maneuvering the ball and he had some speed as well.  His primary challenge however was keeping his shoes on.  They were obviously about two sizes to big and when he lined up for a goal seeking kick his shoe would fly off.  If that weren’t trouble enough, while setting up for his next move  he would run get the shoe,  hop along and slip it on all the while still in the game.  I could only imagine the level of his skill if this one obstacle was eliminated with a good fitting pair of shoes.  The odds for each team however, were fairly even as others lost their shoes as well just not as often and others still played with laces untied, I suspect for shoes that were too small.

After a while it was time to go and the coordinator opted to drive me to a bus stop some distance away as she said it was a dangerous area to stand around and wait.  I asked what I should do if she is not there to drive me, but really didn’t get much of an answer.  At this point I have not yet returned and am questioning the wisdom of taking such a risk.  We’ll see.



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