Matt in Jujuy - Part I

Written by Matt
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Hello. I'm Matt and I've been volunteering for Voluntario Global for 3 months. I've spent most of my time in the ''Comedor Los Pibes'', a social political organization in La Boca. I recently spent a week in the beautiful province of Jujuy with 11 compañeros from the Comedor under the catchy title of ''Comunitarian self management for the exchange of knowledge''. The idea being to exchange information and ideas between the Comedor and the sister organizations there. I went for Voluntario Global to look into possibility of volunteers working there. I'll try and give you an idea of how the week went.

We left at the barbaric time of 8am on Sunday to cover the 1,600 km to Jujuy from La Boca. Having worked there for a few months I felt comfortable in the group although more as a volunteer than a compañero, for this I was a bit unsure about how the week would go but they were very welcoming and friendly, especially La Negra (not as racist as it sounds) who continued to call me ''Hello'' until Wednesday. Sunday was basically the journey and Argentina's finest service stations, it ended well with celebrating popular compañero Pedro's birthday.

On Monday we arrived early in San Pedro and at our temporary home of Romina Fernandez, the co-ordinator for Comedor Los Pibes San Pedro. The first of many many meetings began soon, I had been charged with video recording the week for the Comedor which can best be described as learning by error. The meeting went well with a good exchange of ideas and after lunch and a walk around the village, the 2nd meeting began. It was again productive but a bit of a stretch at 3 1/2 hours, people were literally falling asleep at the end which is usually a good time to call it a day. In the evening we celebrated dia del niño with the towns children and some unbelievably dressed clowns, after some delicious home made empanadas, we were about done and the 1st day was over. The solidarity and generosity between the groups was something I quickly noticed, be it opening their house to us and feeding us for free or Los Pibes donating a computer or a projector, it was touching to see such humble people prepared to share so much.

On Tuesday we went to Tupaj Katari in the capital city San Salvador. Tupaj Katari is similiar to the Comedor in that it fights for social justice whilst also providing a service to the community. It made a good impression on me, I found them driven and intelligent people based on the principles of ´´action and talk´´. Perro Santillan, the Tupaj Katari leader and a prominent Argentine militant also stressed the importance of solidarity. After a tour around the town and its beautiful countryside, and creating a panic by going for ice cream without telling everyone. The meeting began, it was again positive but more so the assembly later on as there was a heated debate with where our compañeros spoke passionately about their work. It was an unusually passionate meeting but for this reason, successful. We returned to San Pedro pleased with the days work. For the 1st time in Argentina, I felt I had arrived in the true Latin America today. For a province where 40% of the people live under the poverty line, the problems and injustice were brutally clear, I think any volunteer would feel enthused and motivated working there.

To be continued next week…

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