March 12, 2008
BUENOS AIRES - After a nice morning walk, we boarded the bus to La Matanza, a community center an hour away from the city. We were greeted by Noah Dobin-Bernstein '07, a fellow Yalie, and Sylvia, the director of the cooperativa (MTDLM). Through translation, Sylvia explained the history of their enterprises and educational facilities.
In 1995, a group of unemployed workers of the village, La Matanza, recovered an abandoned private school building, originally in shambles. They had a goal and strong desire to convert the space into an area where the population could learn and become self-sufficient without any subsidies from the government. They built a panadería, specializing in breaded sweets, for the purpose of providing jobs and low-priced, high-quality food to the community. Other enterprises followed suit: a textile factory, literacy classes, computer training, a micro-lending institution and a preschool.
Following the tour we had an opportunity to play games with the children. The games included basketball (played with newspaper balls), potato sack races and spoon races. We demonstrated a few of our siccccck field hockey skills and presented all the students and workers of the cooperativa with small gifts and field hockey equipment. We had a lot of fun, and it was an amazing experience to see a community using any and all resources in a collaborative effort for self-improvement.
We left the cooperativa at 4:30 and headed to a mall for our pre-game meal. After a quick bite, and an even quicker warm-up, we were ready to play our second Argentine opponent, Buenos Aires Cricket and Rugby Club. Before the game, we lined up at midfield across from the other team and exchanged pins for kisses (apparently an Argentine tradition -- they're just so friendly down here). We played them to a 2-2 tie and followed the game with a hospitality dinner in their clubhouse.
At 11:30 p.m., we headed back to the hotel. In order to prepare for our next Argentine experience (the discoteca), the bus driver converted the bus into a moving dance party, complete with flashing lights and techno music. Needless to say, we felt right at home -- after all, it was a Wednesday night.