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This week on route, participants were asked to carry out a community fundraiser. The fundraiser could go towards the project or the day camp activities or anything else the community felt would be fitting. All the fundraisers were supposed to take place on June 28th which was the day I was visiting Santa Marta. The participants here, Grace and Maya, decided to do a mobile bake sale.

As soon as I got to community they were excited to show me the baked goods they’d made. The day before, the girls, along with help from host family members, had baked snickerdoodles and blondies. The girls were super excited for their fundraiser. Even better was how excited the host family was to get to sample some American desserts.

Maya’s host mom had already contacted much of the community letting them know the girls would be selling their desserts. By the time the participants started walking around, everyone was already waiting for them! At each house Grace and Maya explained AMIGOS and their project. All the community members were super excited about the baked goods and very supportive of the girls’ efforts. By about the seventh house, they’d already sold out.

Together they’d raised about 5,000 colones. While this might not be a huge amount of money, this was truly an exciting moment to witness. Seeing the girls take initiative and come up with their own idea and then carry it out was inspiring. The community was incredibly supportive, and the bake sale could not have gone better.

That night Maya made two more batches of blondies with her host family. The next day was the despedida for the school. The kids who had been attending the extracurricular activities with the participants were about to take their mid term break. Hearing the girls talk about how they’d grown so close to the kids during the past two weeks was heartwarming. Kids are often the easiest community members for participants to relate to. They are open minded and love to get to know the participants. It was clear to me that this community was no different.

As a final celebration, the gym teacher had prepared a sort of field day for the kids. Of course, Grace and Maya joined in. The day started with sack races, then many relay races, and finally a multitude of games using cups and water. After the games all the kids changed clothes because they’d gotten pretty wet during field day. Grace’s host mom prepared a delicious lunch of rice, beans, and potato salad. Then the participants pulled out another batch of homemade blondies for the kids.

Two weeks isn’t a very long time to be in community. The time flies by and before you know it you’re heading home. However, to see the connections the girls made not only with their host families but also with the local kids and many other community members, you’d think they’d been in community for months. It’ll be hard to see all the participants go, and already I have host families begging me not to take them away. Even after they’re gone, the memories they’ve made will continue.