We loaded up in the vans at 8 am this morning on our way out to the Children’s Community Center. Upon arrival, we were all in awe of seeing all our hard work. The staff of the center and the Lifeworks program began the day by playing a game like hot potato which included covering each other’s faces with baby powder. After the game, we were all feeling energetic, and like we could do anything, so we jumped right into our work. We further beautified the school by sticking up our green thumbs and garden all morning. We broke for lunch and took a little walk around the community. The home of an elderly woman was a stop on our little tour. We received the story of a personal experience of struggle in her community and the toll her hard work has taken on her, leaving her with a bad back. After she wished us a prosperous and educated life, we headed back to the center for an experience that captivated me. Five monks arrived at the center and spoke prayers to us. Although we could not understand (excluding Bobby of course), I believe we, or at least I, felt a certain pang of something indescribable. I had never been up close with a monk, and I began to greatly admire their passion for their Buddhist religion. This visit from the monks was part of a special celebration the community was recreating for us. After some crafts, we received buckets of water and blessings from elders, and then all went haywire. It was a full blown water WAR. Yes, a war. Casualties on the front included one student getting carried into a bucket of water and another being locked in a cooler.
After our exhilarating battle, we headed to the hotel and got ready for a dinner experience I don’t think any of us will forget. Dining plans consisted of eating at a restaurant called “Cabbages and Condoms”. This oddly named restaurant is even odder on the inside. There are statues made of condoms, signs, posters, and t-shirts all promoting condom use. The drink menu even included some oddities (ask your kid what they ordered when they get home). As strange as this must sound to those reading this, it was all for a good cause. The restaurant is a huge proponent in promoting HIV awareness. We learned the importance of using protection and the damage that can be caused without it. We retired to the hotel and bonded, sharing personal stories and experiences with each other which ended a very productive day.