On Wednesday, I went back to Comedor los Pibes in La Boca to interpret for Pedro and Roxana. A group of about twenty business students from San José, California had come to do the tour. After a hearty lunch of milanesa and rice, we started in the clothes production department of Los Pibes, where school uniforms are made and subsequently sold (other products are T-shirts, hats and even Che Guevara bags). The mini-factory started with just two sewing machines which workers and locals contributed towards, but through their own hard work and government funding they have managed to buy several machines and to create more jobs.
The cage in the corner, boss Walter assured us, was not used to imprison lazy workers, but to transfer equipment between the ground floor and the first. We moved on to the bakery room (not the massage parlour, as one of our company thought), where fresh bread is baked three times a week. Again, the bakers started with one small oven and have managed to buy two much bigger, more powerful ovens and various other tools through their own efforts. We then visited the “cooperativa”, the huge apartment block that will eventually be able to house thirty families. Construction started five years ago and ground to a halt about a year and a half ago due to lack of government funding. From the top floor, Pedro points to two towers ten blocks away in Puerto Madero, the richest and most expensive area in Buenos Aires; it is a sad contrast.
Pedro explains that Mauricio Macri, the Chief of Government of Buenos Aires, is keen to sell the land on which the locals currently live to build more luxury housing. It was, all in all, a fascinating day and one discovers something new with each tour. They were a highly intelligent group, who asked sensitive questions, and we look forward to hearing from them soon. By the way, our new Volunteer Club is looking fantastic, it is all painted and will be ready as soon as next week. Two volunteers are moving straight in with others on the way, so the Voluntario Global family is growing. Next week I am going to another of our projects, so join me for that one.