Monday, December 17, 2007

Teddy Bears To Colombia Donation Program

On my first trip to Medellin, I was invited to visit many homes up in the hillside barrios. I was talking to the children and there was this young girl who showed me her prized possesion. It was sorta a mini version of beanie bear. It was a hand-me-down, and it was covered in stains.

I remember looking at it and thinking, "how freakin' lucky I was to live in the US and to be able to make enough money to buy the things I NEED as well as those I WANT. I am so lucky that I can travel to another country without having to worry about the overall cost of the trip."

That's what I was thinking as this young girl, with a big smile on her face, proudly showed me her toy.

As I planned my second trip to Medellin, I thought about this experience. So, I went out and purchased five stuffed toys to give out to some of the kids I met on my first trip to Medellin.

When I arrived at my hotel, I stuffed the stuffed animals into a bag and went to see how everyone was doing in Itagui. I showed up and was greeted with hugs and kisses, and a tinto.

I sat down and told everyone what I told my friends and family back home regarding my trip to Medellin. They were happy to see me again. As usual, a typical hot Colombian lunch was served to me, the folks watched me eat, as I continued with my stories.

Sometime after my lunch, the kids started showing up as they were getting out of school.

I called some of the children over, several that I spent a lot of time with on my first trip, and had them sit down in front of me. I reached for my bag. They all looked at each other and smiled.

When I purchased the stuffed animals, I did not just buy any o' stuffed animal. I bought the ones that reminded me of a specific child. I don't know why, but I remember thinking, "This one is Luisa! This one is for Valentina! Eveyln will LOVE this teddy bear! This is Eliana! Catholina will be very HAPPY!"

So now all the kids are sitting quietly, waiting to see what is in my bag.

I reach into the bag and pull out a Rabbit, and everyone is excited! I hand it to Valentina, who is two years old, she takes it and immeditealy makes it her own, she clutches it close to her chest. She is all smiled. The rest of the children enjoy watching Valentina hug her little rabbit.

This is basically the same response from all the children. The older folks look on with big smiles on their faces. The children's parents are working. Everyone is very HAPPY, not just the children.

The children swarm around me, hugs, kisses, a million thank you's! They won't let me escape! They clutch their stuffed toys with one hand as they fight to get closer to me. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL THING!

After a few minutes the matriarch of the family tells the children to leave me alone, so I can breathe. The children thank me again. I am free. I can breathe again.

I sit back and continue my conversation with the adults. The matriach asks me if I'm ready for a Pilsen, beer. Yes, I am!

She brings me a Pilsen and asks me "estas amanado?" I reply, "Yes, I took a bath at the hotel before I came."

EVERYONE LAUGHS at my reply.

"Estas amanado" translated to English is "are you happy and/or content?"

"Estas amanado?" sounds like "are you bathed?"

I replied, "yes, I took a bath at the hotel before arriving." That's why everyone found it very comical.
The Teddy Bears To Colombia Donation Program

I will be returning to Medellin in January and have set up a "Teddy Bears To Colombia" donation fund for disadvantaged children in the poorer barrios in Medellin, Colombia. I am asking for donations for anyone who wants to send a teddy bear to a child. I want to purchase the teddy bears in the US and deliver them to the children in Medellin. I think it makes a world of a difference to them, knowing that the bear has traveled a long way to their new home in Medellin.

When I purchased the first stuffed animals, I thought about buying them something that didn't need batteries, you wouldn't necessarly take it out of the house with you, or at least not too far from home, and thought that the stuffed animals was a good way for them to care of something that was truly theirs, not a hand-me-down.

The Teddy Bears are purchased in the U.S. and are then distributed to children in Medellin, Colombia. Send a small gift of happiness to a child in South America, spread the joy.


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