Visit to the outskirts of Potosi with father Efrain Gutierrez and Enrique (our coordinator)

Visit to the outskirts of Potosi with father Efrain Gutierrez and Enrique (our coordinator)

Under the protection of father Efrain Gutierrez and together with Enrique (our coordinator), I visit the outskirts of Potosí. Enrique tells me that even he (black hair, brown eyes, clearly of Spanish descent) wouldn’t dare visit here without the protection of the father. Poverty, crime, addiction, fear and repression create distrust and hate of strangers. I stay close to them. Clay and stone houses, corrugated roofs, loose dogs, a drunk by the side of the “road”, distrust in people’s eyes, bad smell, dust, sand, a cold wind, and a viciously burning sun that’s filtered only by blowing sand and dust at an altitude of 4250m.

Alto (high) Potosí has grown on the border of the city like red fungus. Potosí has grown from 150.000 to 270.000 inhabitants because of the high turnout of the mines. Especially poor farmers from the countryside try their luck in the mines. They buy a patch of ground for a disproportionately high price: for a piece of land that cost 1000 dollars a few years back they now have to pay 7000 dollars! The children go to school but often get into trouble because they are not used to the city environment. The church community puts a lot of time and energy into helping these migrants and is successful. Because of a necessary extension in the higher up and newest part of the neighbourhood our help has been asked.

We visit the meeting centre that is being built and where activities will be organized for the locals. A good initiative by the ever smiling father with a hat who has heart for the people, he is beloved. I think this man can get a lot done and we can help him with that. We will look into it.

When we walk out of the outskirts I see meat being dried on a clothesline. Since I see no one at the house I ask Enrique if I can take a picture of it. He advises me not to, you never know whether someone might take offense.