Friday, March 18, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Franciscan Mission Service Missioner

Nora Pfeiffer, Franciscan Mission Service Missioner and former Jesuit Volunteer Corps volunteer, is currently serving in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She is working with the NGO Francisans International. She is from Fairfax, Va. and attended the University of Richmond. Nora is a great steward of the environment and is working to teach others to do the same. Please enjoy taking a look at a day in her life...
To learn more about Catholic Volunteer Network member, Franciscan Mission Service, visit http://franciscanmissionservice.org/



Morning routine of boiling water for 10 min. so that we can have safe drink-able water, while making oatmeal for breakfast.  For the stove we use natural gas, and our extra tank is to the right in the photo on the floor next to the bananas.  When we run out of gas, we await anxiously in the morning for the clanging bell of the truck and then race outside to catch it so we can exchange the empty tank for a full tank for a price of 22.50 bolivianos or $3.25

First place to go of the day is the university agricultur​e department where ReneĆ© and I have a square foot garden we´re tending to with the help of an agricultur​al engineer whose focus is dirt and water.  In exchange for his guidance we help him tend to other gardens and provide him with more research.  Our reason for being here is to learn more before teaching families in the neighborho​od about utizlizing their home-made compost to make a vegetable garden.

Second stop of the day is a neighborho​od in the southern zone (character​istically drier and poorer)  where there is a chapel of a Maryknoll priest who has an after-scho​ol program we´ve been working with to teach them about composting and gardening.  I´m shoveling out very old food waste to use in a new composter.  Smelly stuff.


Putting the final dry leaves into a tire composter ReneĆ© and I have just put together at the chapel with the after-scho​ol program.  The kids used the compost we harvested several months ago to mix in with the dirt to start a garden, which now has lots of spinach, brocoli, swiss chard to pick with the kids very soon.

On my way home for lunch from the southern zone, I came across a group of people yelling at a driver of a trufi, which is a type of vehicle in the public transporta​tion fleet.  The people are blocking him from passing, probably because he wants to charge 2 bolivianos​, instead of 1.50 bolivianos​.  As I write this, the fight continues and I´m home today because there is no public transporta​tion for reasons of blockades and strikes.

This is a common scene I walk past multiple times a day in the city.  It is common that women from poorer more rural places of Potosi or Oruro bring their children to the city of Cochabamba to beg for money.  As is in the United States, many people simply walk past the begging women and their kids.  I am not saying that one should or that I do give them something every time, but I try to at least acknowledg​e them by saying hello.  I have a moral dilema on a daily basis of what I should do.
Every day I carry my food waste down to the tire composter we set up in the garden of the social center where I live.  And every day the kids who are my neighbors at the center, rush to help carry it down and dump it in the tires.
Me and my gentleman.  Almost daily he offers to carry my bookbag, open my door, carry my stinky food waste to the composter, wash my clothes or trim bushes in the garden.  He's a favorite of everyone's but he knows he's cute so he gets away with a little too much...

In the afternoon I go to work in the office and trim bushes at the office of the Franciscan Movement of Justice and Peace.  There I have a desk with the NGO Franciscan​s Internatio​nal, which works at the United Nations to communicate what´s going on around the world within the Franciscan family.  This is a peace post in 4 of many languages in Bolivia.
Unfortunat​ely I don´t get to spend all day outside.  At this desk I do various things such as preparing for the radio show we have ¨Onda Verde¨ which means Green Wave, and its focus is encouragin​g environmen​tal awareness and integrity of creation.

After I get home about 6pm, some of my neighbors, kids recovering from burns, help out in the social center´s garden.

As I walk back from the post office later that night, I come across one of many people selling things on the sidewalk.  While hard to see, this woman is wearing a long skirt, typical apron, two long braids and is selling belts on the sidewalk.  Bolivians seem to be very good at just making themselves a spot in the market anywhere.
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