It’s a 2-hour bus ride from the city of Sucre to the village of Morado K’asa where BiblioWorks has established one of their eight libraries. This has been my home away from home, away from home for the last few months as I’ve spent three days a week working in the library to develop and facilitate literacy programs.
It’s a 2-hour journey that transcends me to a place that remains virtually untouched by the outside world and it takes a while to readjust each time I arrive. It’s a place that gets very few visitors for visiting sake.
I stay with the same family every week, which consists of the boss, Doña Justina, her husband Don Teadoro, their niece Carolina and their four children, Nelson, Nicole, Melony and Margot.
The kids go to school in the morning and then Nelson helps Don Teadoro work in the fields while the girls help Doña Justina around the house. A few times a week, Doña Justina travels into Sucre and other surrounding villages to sell the family’s produce and collect necessary goods.
The days are long but nobody ever complains.
The house is basic, but warm. There’s a tin front door that squeaks open and the rooms are connected with an open-air courtyard. The kids share a bedroom with walls covered with random old ad posters and class projects. The beds are made of hard cloth bags and topped with layers of heavy wool blankets.
The village is a network of about 7 stone roads that all lead from the fields to the main street. Locals pass through town as they guide their herds into the fields to feed. Mules, sheep, goats and cows follow orders, while pigs and chickens roam around on their own accord.
The Library sits between the church and the soccer “area” and although it is small, it’s nicely stocked with resources in Spanish, English and Quechua (the preferred language in town).
Morado K’asa is a place that makes you reconsider your values. It’s a simple place that hasn’t been transformed by time or influence. People live their life based on necessity.
From the outside looking in it looks poor, sad and underdeveloped. Once you get to know the town and how it functions, you realize they have everything they need – they are content.
It’s a place that defines Bolivia. Humble, friendly, slow and beautiful.
One day I asked some of the older kids what they wanted to be when they grew up and I couldn’t believe the response. An older girl, with an old wool sweater and beat up leather sandals, responded:
“I want to help children in Africa. I saw a program where they don’t have anything there…”
The truth is, you’ll probably never visit the village of Morado K’asa. Even if you travel through Bolivia it’s not a place that’ll draw your attention. I would’ve ever come here either if it wasn’t for volunteering with BiblioWorks, but I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to meet such great people and become a familiar face within the community dynamic.
I don’t say this to put myself above you or tell you I’ve been to more or different places. I believe there are a million villages like this around the world.
I tell the story of Morado K’asa because I hope that one day you’ll have the same opportunity to be a part of something far removed from anything you’ve ever known – to visit a place or put yourself in a position that allows you to see the world from a different prospective.
I hope that you go searching for your own Morado K’asa and that you have an experience that questions your values and pulls you outside your comfort zone.
It’s an amazing feeling.
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