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Uruguay volunteers tell of experience

13/10/2017: Colombia

Andrea Runga Ruggiero and Rodrigo Rivas Masullo, from Montevideo (Uruguay), are two lay Marists currently volunteering for four months in a community in Colombia.

The couple, who is staying in the community ‘Hermano Alfonso Segovia’ until Dec. 22, took part in the inauguration of the 22nd General Chapter.

They also led capitular brothers in an activity to help them discover various Marists works with vulnerable children and young people in Medellin.

Below is an account dated Oct. 1 of what Andrea and Rodrigo have experienced so far in Colombia.

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“It’s been over a month since we arrived here, in Colombia, in a neighbourhood called Santo Domingo in Medellin. We came to share this time with the community ‘Hermano Alfonso Segovia,’ made up of two young brothers, Carlos Saúl and Juan Pablo, and by Cristian, an enthusiastic aspirant aged only 19.

Since the house where the brothers live is small, it was agreed that we should be received by Natalia, an energetic Marist educator, always smiling and with a big heart, who lives a couple of uphills away from the brothers. Yes, everything is measured here in uphills. And downhills. We are half way up a great mountain, so to move around you always must go up and down slopes and scales (this is the world they use for stairs here). While Naty’s house is even smaller than the brothers’, there is enough room for the three of us so we are more than comfortable.

Daily community meetings with the Brothers begin by sharing the morning prayer and breakfast. In the afternoon, we share prayer and dinner. We also participated together in the pastoral activities on Saturday afternoons and we have had some out of the ordinary moments, especially on weekends.

With respect to our usual tasks, we participate in ‘La Fundación Huellas’ (a foundation that the brothers accompany with their presence in various activities and programmes) in both of their spaces: ‘La Torre’ Community Centre (a few steps away from where we live) and the ‘Popular Library’ (Biblioteca Popular) in the Manantiales neighbourhood, an intense half hour uphill walk from the centre. After having known the different projects and programmes of the foundation we have been increasing the work with children and mothers. We have accompanied some outings of the children and we were in the organisation and execution of a sleepover and of a dinner of a 10th anniversary celebration of the foundation. In the same way, we are still searching for spaces in which we can continue to contribute from the formation we’ve received as Marists.

As Marists, we have been blessed to participate in some unthought of instances, such as the inauguration of the 22nd General Chapter, a Mass with Pope Francis and another with the Bishop of Medellin. We also participated in the celebration for the 200 years and accompanied an activity of insertion of the capitular brothers where they met various works of Medellin where Marists work with vulnerable children and young people. An incredible learning experience.

In Colombia, we have found a human warmth that has made us feel at home, starting with the brothers, as well as Naty and many passionate people who give their lives each day for the neighbourhood’s children making the strong commitment to live among them.

We are aware that we have just began our experience and that we still have much to walk and discover. God called us to these lands and Marcellin’s heart brought us to this community specifically. Trusting in Mary, it will be our task to discover what it is that we should learn from being together here and now.”

Andrea and Rodrigo

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