Juan Manuel in Cochabamba and Lima: Five months working and living with the Brothers
What has the five months experience meant to me? I would sum it up in a few words saying that from the moment of hearing the call, praying about it and making the decision to go, it has been a great learning experience for me.
I spent the first two months in Cochabamba collaborating in the “Brother Manolo Educational Centre”, CEHM and the following three months accompanying poor families and immersion groups in the Hendricken House in San Juan de Lurigancho, Lima.
In Cochabamba I learnt what it means to live in a community, trusting others and respecting the roles they carry out. When one goes to the CEHM, in theory one goes to help children and youth. I realized finally that it was them that taught me important lessons like respect, gratitude and the capacity to enjoy the simplest experiences.
When I was in Lima accompanying families in situations of poverty, I experienced the injustice they suffer in their lies and the exploitation of women who have to work to maintain their children. I shared their reality. They live on a day to day basis with no possibility of planning their lives. They lack opportunities and have to work 12 hours a day just to survive. I was impressed by the sacrifices they make for their children who are the core of their lives. I was impressed by their gratitude to the brother and I learnt that what these poor families appreciate most is to be accompanied, loved and listened to by someone.
I learnt to value the gift of life itself, apart from any difficulties or opportunities that come our way.
Juan Manuel Irazabal is a university student aged 20. He is a past pupil of Stella Maris College, Montevideo, Uruguay. We are very grateful for Juan Manuel´s time in the Brothers’ projects and we hope that others may follow his example.