In late November, project manager Joanne Raveney contacted the director (Natalie) of CONIN, a center for malnourished children located in the heart of one of the most violent urban zones of Mendoza, Argentina. Joanne discussed with Natalie the possibility of helping with educational books for the children of their day school (approximately 250 children). Natalie was very appreciative and eager to receive the books for the school. They discussed plans for their Christmas show where our young volunteers of Mendoza Vision, who had formed a Christmas singing group, could perform. At this time, we would offer the children’s books to the teachers and school.
This was the plan and it turned out beautifully, but this story would be lacking if we did not include all the helping hands that made it possible.
Firstly, how to finance the books? How to ship them from Chile to Mendoza? These were just a few of the obstacles in front of us. Time was short and the distances were long. We wrote to Activated Ministries in the United States and they gladly offered to finance the books. Our deep gratefulness goes to them as their rapid and generous response set all the other gears in motion.
Secondly, getting them from the depot in Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina was the next challenge. We went to the local customs office in town, and were told that only after huge amount of paperwork we may be able to get them. It sounded like they’d be ready by next Christmas. But we refused to give up.
Our friend Jonas in Chile went to work stamping each book with a stamp verifying that the books were indeed a donation, not to be sold. He also attached a sticker in each book explaining in few words our volunteer work at Mendoza Vision and making it clear that our purpose was to better the quality of life for children and the community. After many hours of work and many prayers, the customs officials allowed the books through the border – something we were told could not be done.
The books arrived just a few days before the scheduled show at CONIN. Natalie, the directress, had even sent a van and chauffer to our Home to help bring us and the singers, equipment and books to their center.
At the show, we were able to meet and discuss the books with the center’s staff. They were very impressed by the quality of the books and so very thankful for this donation. Our young people really livened up the party with their happy songs of Christmas and the day was a memorable and enjoyable one for everyone involved.