Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Flooding in Lujan. Or, ¨how can we possibly make it even harder to get to the places we give to!?¨

From our home base in Buenos Aires, we have quite a commute to get to Luján. We take a bus from Plaza Miserere in the downtown neighborhood called Once to the main terminal of Luján; this bus should take 1.5 hours but generally takes just as long as the day´s circumstances see fit. Once at the terminal, we hop in a remis (like a taxi) or a local bus to get to the neighborhood we are visiting for the day. I´ll repeat what I mentioned in the last blog post for those of you that haven´t seen it. ¨Luján is a complex area where the neighborhoods, schools, and social services span the map from wealthy middle class to very poor. The town has some geographic lines (rivers, highways, countryside and train tracks) that seem to very clearly divide the different populations. The places we visit tend to be very patchwork- schools in borrowed spaces, houses built from scraps of whatever people can find, clothes that have been found or donated and (almost always) children everywhere.¨ Because of the geographic dividers, the neighborhoods we visit are very rarely close to the center of town. This means that faced with special circumstances, our longest time door to door was six hours.

¨Why!?¨ you ask? 

Because early that week the province of Buenos Aires was hit by a downpour of rain that flooded many parts and Luján was hit especially hard by the rains. This left hundreds of families displaced from their now subaquatic homes and meant that the municipality was quickly charged with the task of setting up temporary shelters and otherwise providing for the people. Suddenly makes a six hour commute seem incredibly bearable, right? I was blown away by the grace with which the people of Luján -within the municipality especially- looked after the displaced. One particular shelter was set-up in the Polisport (a community sports complex) and housed up to 300 people at one time. Volunteers cooked meals off-site and brought them to the complex, necessities like water, mattresses and clothing were available to the people, etc. 

Provisions for the people. Photo: Cydney Justman
Flooded streets in Lujan. Photo: Cydney Justman

Within a few days of the flooding, we were invited to come to Luján and entertain/distract the 30 or so children taking shelter in the aforementioned Polisport. We arrived that afternoon to some very anxious and excitable children who were thrilled for something to do. We did our audience participation heavy show and then handed out juggling scarves to all that wanted to learn a bit of juggling. As that lesson ended, it became very clear that these children needed to run out a whole lot of energy. We reached into our circus teacher bag o´ tricks and played a lot of silly games like Big Mouth, The Invisible Ball, etc.

Outdoor show.
 Great, until the mosquitos arrived.

A wonderfully outgoing boy preparing to be our helper.

We finished the evening exhausted and covered in mosquito bites, and fortunately the commute home only took about 2.5 hours!

No comments:

Post a Comment