JoPa Reconnect

Taking Isaiah to the local hospital for his head injury wasn’t the only exciting part of last week’s Jóvenes por Paraguay (Youth for Paraguay) Reconnect event. It was the follow-up to the camp we attended with three youth from our town back in January. After that camp the youth were supposed to go back to their communities and start a youth group with a community service focus.

JoPa Reconnect July 2013

And our three empowered and motivated youth did just that. Their group name is Jovy (Jóvenes Voluntarios de Yuty or Youth Volunteers from Yuty) and their projects have thus far been focused on helping out at the local children’s soup kitchen. They read and play games with them before lunch and have even executed some special craft projects that were huge hits.

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So this 4-day camp was a chance for members from the newly formed youth groups to get together and celebrate their success. There were opportunities to share about the completed service projects as well as fun but informative sessions on how to continue to make a difference in your community.

JoPa Reconnect July 2013 3

While the January camp started off a little shy since the youth were meeting each other for the first time, this one hit the ground running. I have no doubt they really had anticipated this reconnect moment for months. It is an experience like no other to be brought together with other motivated youth from across the country in a positive space.

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The camp was well-planned and well-executed thanks to a team of my G-mates from training. Tim, Jess, Anna, Jaime, Robert, Safiya and others did an amazing job of preparing good content, a schedule that was filled but not packed, and creating the atmosphere for a super enjoyable time for both participants and volunteers.

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For me as a volunteer, it was inspiring just to be a part of it and see what an impact something as simple (to me) as taking some good kids from town to this event can have on their lives. I was also thrilled that this camp came after the Paraguay Emprende Business Plan Workshop. While I was busy playing a leadership role at that event, at JoPa I kicked back and participated with little responsibility. In fact, I was given the best role possible: timekeeper. So throughout the entire event I was in charge of keeping things moving on schedule. Basically my dream job. It was amazing.

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With Paraguay Emprende’s workshop and JoPa’s camp nearly back-to-back due to it being winter break so kids are out of school, we had a very busy couple of weeks. Phew! Now we’re back home, snuggling up and getting back to a routine. And though I had held my breath and buckled down to see a successful Business Plan Workshop through, I now realize the work continues.

JoPa Reconnect July 2013 4

There are still contacts to make, thank yous to send, money to distribute, mentorship to get off the ground, evaluations to collect and plans made for the future. This is a good thing as I do enjoy this work (and there’s a super talented team working to do these things, I just see to it that things keep running smoothly in the right direction), but I was thankful for the retreat that internet-less JoPa created to take a break from it all for a few days.

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By the way, photos from the Business Plan Workshop are now posted on our Paraguay Emprende facebook page, so be sure to take a look!


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