by Diego Plá Aranda, C.M. (with Aidan Rooney, C.M.)
Pastor, San Pedro de Mocomoco
Vincentian Bolivian Altiplano Mission
The story I’m about to tell is based on real events. It may possibly sound like a comedy, but nothing is further from reality. My Dad taught me as a youngster that food wasn’t a game. It’s even less of a game in an area of Bolivia where we Vincentians work that is considered an area of extreme poverty.
Every year we open school lunch programs in the towns of Mocomoco and Ingas for needy children. Nayrar Sarapxañani (Forward Together in Aymara), our social service and systemic change organization, buys a whole cow so the children have meat to improve their nutrition. This particular animal, a bull, is supposed to last us three months. We have to feed 130 children every day.
Our problem was that somebody stole the bull in the morning, and after searching all day the butcher came to us very upset. He bought the bull at a great investment and lost his principal ($500), and he’s a poor man.
And that’s where we came into this story. The ancestors of the people here, the Incas, look for things by following tracks; we used our logic and street savvy. This bull was for the poor children could not be lost. It’s a big sacrifice and a lot of work to raise money to improve the nutrition of these children, and that money can’t go to waste. We found the bull, hidden, about to be stolen, tied between trees in an out-of-the-way place, which the thief had left there waiting for nightfall. And as the locals say “the bull cries,” and hearing his scream we climbed the mountain to find him. We’re grateful to God, because the children will have what they need.
Thanks for sharing this very interesting and crucial adventure helping us appreciate the ways of the people you work with,Aiden.