Sorata and The Rockettes

Rockettes: Internado Patio Workers

They came from four countries, spoke three languages, and ranged in age from 4 to 76.   And they gathered at the Internado in Sorata, Bolivia, to wash rocks!  The rock washing was part of a project to repair drainage problems in the patio of the Internado, a residence for rural students attending middle and high school in Sorata.
       The international visitors, from the U.S., England, Ireland and Wales, were part of the Quaker Service/Study Tour (QSST) organized by Treasures of the Andes.  They were joined by parents and other relatives of Internado students, who walked hours and even days to participate. 
        The work was organized by master builder David Allegoren from Davis, Ca. with a local mason.  Workers dug up trees and smaller plants and roots from the center of the patio, while others removed stones from the remainder of the patio, after which new drains were dug.  The rocks had to be cleaned before they could be re-laid in concrete, a task completed by an industrious group of trip volunteers that called themselves The Rockettes.   Mary and the MomsA truck brought a huge load of gravel, which students unloaded, then the international team relaid many of the stones.  The final work, including pouring the cement, was done by the local mason and the fathers of the students.
       In addition to the work on the patio, some of the Internado families and visitors constructed the framework for a roof on the upper terrace, so that it can be used in inclement weather for recreation and activities. Others painted the stair railings and made miscellaneous smaller repairs.  
      While the project involved very hard work, it also provided an opportunity for the visitors to get acquainted with each other and with parents and students from the Internado.  One mother worked for an afternoon while her baby lay nearby a safe distance from the rocks, and Eusebio and Maria’s 4 year old granddaughter helped load the smaller rocks.  Good-natured conversations were carried on in English, Spanish, Aymara, and improvised sign language.
       In addition to the construction, visitors helped in the kitchen and tutored students in math.  The QSSTers brought several computers and a printer, games and a guitar. Caleb and Luke Hampton taught students to use the computers for school work and for processing photos.
       A big game of soccer between the Internado students and the visitors was the highlight of one evening.   Don Groom of Moraga, Ca.,  and Jim Morgan of Pittsburgh, Pa., taught a group of students to play chess. Others enjoyed music together.
       The 2011 Quaker Study/Service Tour is already filling up.  The tour includes a week of service activities, visits with BQEF scholarship students and to QBL project sites, tourist sites, and shopping.  An optional extension is available for Machu Picchu and other sites in Peru.  For more information, see