A Light of Hope... To Escape a Dark World
by Andrew MacDonald, Kaya Volunteer
Having returned from volunteering for two months in La Paz with Kaya, it’s hard to express what I’ve taken away from it. The first word that comes to mind is “numbness.” It does involve a certain distance from the society I’ve returned to, or “reverse culture shock” as they call it. But it’s more than that. To some extent or another, I feel alienated from much of human society as a whole; I’m still too confused by my species to start dealing with them again like I used to.
This is because working at Kaya showed me the best and worst of humanity, at least as much as my short 21 year life has been able to witness thus far. Hearing the horror stories of some of the children’s past lives - the particular details of which are often too despicable to publish - and still seeing the reality of the present state of many of the poor and neglected in Bolivia today (the ones resisting Kaya’s help for whatever reason) has caused me to doubt us all- myself included.
But the kids at Kaya, whether they have been thriving in the program for years or are even only a few months fresh off the street, are a light of hope for anyone trying to escape a dark world. They are a glimpse of true redemption, even if they might have trouble concentrating on homework every now and again.
But their light does not cancel out the darkness I saw; it only seems to muddle it. What a mystery it is that some of these kids- young, innocent children - were living a life more sordid than swine, and now have far better attitudes than American students their age about learning their times tables or how to sound out words. Why do some parents choose to love their children with their fists? How is it that any single person can be capable of both hatred and love, even in the same instant? How in the world are these kids so good and holy, while I’m still not? How do the Kaya workers keep going year in and year out when I am already so tired? What evils would I be capable of, had I not grown up rich, comfortable, loved, and disciplined with kind words?
The answers frighten and elude me, but my comfort remains a faith in grace; the grace that has been extended to me, by friends and family alike, for my whole life; the grace Kaya is extending to every child they can find in La Paz; and above all, the grace of God saving us all from the sins of our society, the sins of our parents, and whatever unspeakable past we are also being redeemed from.
(posted by S.Callard for Andrew MacDonald)