Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Crecer con Amor (To Grow with Love)

Though the name may sound corny to some when translated into English, it is certain that Argentina needs more organizations like Crecer con Amor! If each organization put forth the love and caring that this little youth-based community center does on a daily basis, Argentina would be transformed overnight.

This small organization has a tremendous story. It has been built up from scratch by one Argentine woman, Jacqueline Marquez, against all odds, but with the support of many others since the economic crisis in Argentina in 2001-2.

Today, January 29, 2008, I went out to Crecer con Amor with a future volunteer from Estonia. Yep, you heard right, Estonia. Awesome.

Listening to Jacqueline speak about Crecer and its transformation never gets old. From her tiny office, tucked away in a small corner of La Loma, outside Buenos Aires city, she speaks fluidly, passionately, and with a sparkle in her eye (Photo: Jacqueline with volunteer, Matt Bennett).

If I were to describe Jacqueline, the following words would come to mind: courageous, determined, disciplined, un-wavering, compassionate, loving, caring, selfless, and one-of-a-kind.

As Jacqueline speaks about the unfolding turn of events that gave life to her special place for young people in La Loma, you cannot help but feel inspired. Her story and the story of her organization and its people show us that anything is possible when you lead with good intentions and compassion for others, and trust in the perfection of things.

Currently, more than 150 young people from the ages of 1-13 frequent Crecer con Amor each day to participate in a variety of educational activities. Crecer can best be described as both a before-school and an after-school program (some children attend school in the mornings, some in the afternoon), but it is much more than that. Crecer provides a fundamental safe space and supportive role for its young people. Love, mutual respect, and the education of basic human values are at the heart of Crecer's mission.

In a neighborhood where drug use and juvenile criminality is prevalent and where families have often been torn apart by unemployment or social crisis, Crecer is a breath of fresh air that brings hope for the future to this community's youngest members. Crecer con Amor is changing the lives of these kids each day and you can see it on their faces.

Not surprisingly, our volunteer program has been constantly inspired working with Jacqueline and everyone at Crecer. More than 40 volunteers from 14 different countries have volunteered in La Loma since 2006. Many notable things have happened. I will tell you about them as we go. Peace.

1 comment:

cheryl said...

So glad to find your blog. Just visited Crecer con Amor this morning with my family. My daughter has been volunteering there since the first of the year. What a privilege to see this organization raised up among the bleakness and hopelessness of this impoverished community. J. Marquez and her staff should certainly be commended for the work they have done in providing this safe haven for children.