Victor

I.

It was perfect in a bittersweet way

The overcast day
The fresh flowers
The waiting

The shades of black and grey
The Padre Nuestro
The father’s chanting

II.

They ushered him through a maze
of flagstones well-polished by the varnish of water
and the heavy footsteps of generations of mourners.
For fifty pesos a stranger sang
as we showered him with rose petals and rain.

Amidst her wailing and her brothers’ silent despair
and the cement mixed and laid thick to immortalise him,
the sky stops crying and its blue eyes blink
and I, for a moment, stare into eternity,
into sorrow, into loss, into hope.

Avenues upon avenues of memories
in this city of the departed;
yards and yards of carnations
doing their best to defy time –
but who can resist?

Grief made her embrace linger, made us angels
without wings, and stranded on earth,
but angels nonetheless.

III.

Another Padre Nuestro
Another sigh
Another moment without him

The first of too many. Continue reading Victor

External link to Strong Sentencing for Bolivian Uncle Indicates Crackdown on Family Abuse

Strong Sentencing for Bolivian Uncle Indicates Crackdown on Family Abuse

Strong Sentencing for Bolivian Uncle Indicates Crackdown on Family Abuse (my piece from the IJM Newsroom) LA PAZ, BOLIVIA, May 31, 2015 After two years of relentless effort by the IJM team, a Bolivian man has been sentenced to 22.5 years for abusing his 7-year-old niece. Throughout the legal process, the family faced multiple roadblocks, including threats to their safety and an uphill battle in the Bolivian justice system. However, … Continue reading Strong Sentencing for Bolivian Uncle Indicates Crackdown on Family Abuse

The kids that break your heart

Filing photos is an emotionally taxing task. It’s not easy flicking through the faces of kids who have been sexually abused. Equally powerful are pictures of the parents determined to have justice for their son or daughter. Smiles. Frowns. Joy. Sadness. Hope. Despair. Courage. Fear. Our image archive spans a wide spectrum of emotions. It’s beautiful, but in a way that makes you ache inside. Most of these are photos … Continue reading The kids that break your heart

Coincidence vs Providence

I have a friend who used to say that there’s no such thing as luck, only statistics.

It’s all just a matter of chance and probability. What we’re really saying when we say something that happened was bad luck is that the improbable (but not impossible) negative outcome happened. What we’re really saying when we wish someone good luck is that we hope probabilities work in their favour.

Then there are those moments when you really see how the stars have aligned. Yes, it’s still probability at play – but I don’t believe statistics preclude God’s involvement; indeed I believe God can work with probabilities and against them.

B, one of our clients, was diagnosed with cancer and given a 60-70% of responding to treatment and a 40% chance overall of recovering. Hospital A doesn’t generally provide chemotherapy. They were going to send B home to free up a bed, and put her on the three-month waiting list at another hospital. It’s Monday. Continue reading Coincidence vs Providence

All About Altitude (Charquini and Chacaltaya)

I thought we were going to the jungle. Turns out we went to a glacier. On the road Emerging from La Paz, we drove a couple of hours through the desolate, windswept Bolivian altiplano. Our first stop was a miners’ graveyard – popular with tourists, judging by the busloads that had arrived before us. I don’t blame them. The quaint tombs (like mini cottages … or kennels) … Continue reading All About Altitude (Charquini and Chacaltaya)

Five fun facts about the Bolivia legal system

1. Since 2011, Supreme Court judges have been elected by popular vote. In January 2015, President Evo Morales admitted the justice system had gotten worse under this arrangement, and proposed a referendum to modify the constitution and reform the justice system. 2. Under Morales (that is, since 2006), there have been five female Ministers for Justice – no men have held this portfolio. 3. Until 30 October … Continue reading Five fun facts about the Bolivia legal system

Carnaval Act II: Oruro-Tarija-La Paz

After Oruro, the roadtrip. Oruro to Potosí (Saturday) Making it from Oruro to Tarija in the one evening was wishful thinking. We get halfway, pulling into Potosi, a little before midnight. It’s Saturday night, but there’s no party and we can’t even get a local beer – so it’s a can of Paceña, then to bed. Potosí to … Tupiza? (Sunday) A beautiful, sunny day. … Continue reading Carnaval Act II: Oruro-Tarija-La Paz