We took the 14 girls who were there last night and divided them into three groups (each with a leader.) Then it was off to the mall in the nearest big town; each group got R$10 and a half an hour to accomplish three things. 1) eat 2) have fun 3) serve. The group that spent the least won a prize.
Oh. My. Gosh. I think they'll be talking about this activity for the rest of their lives.
The Beehives (youngest girls - 12 to 13) spent R$1.30 on two little meat pasties that they split. Their service was straightening the books in a bookstore, and their fun was racing up and down the escalator.
The Mia Maids (14 to 15) spent 57 centavos on a package of cookies that they split. They served a grocery store in the mall, bagging the groceries. For fun they went to the arcade and played all the free games.
But MY group won ... we went to one of the restaurants to wipe tables, and they gave us breadsticks for FREE!!! Then we went to a makeup store and tried on all the free stuff.
What was so amazing to watch, though, was these humble village girls in a big-city mall. I don't think everyone realizes JUST HOW HUMBLE our friends are. Put it this way: most of the girls had never been to the mall, and a few had never even been in an elevator. (One chickened out and couldn't go through with it.) They were completely floored by the Maxi Shopping (malls are called "shoppings" here - a noun, not a verb.) It really is a pretty good size - four floors with every store you can think of, a huge food court complete with McDonald's (the bishop treated us to ice cream cones afterwards), a huge movie theater, a big middle area with a fountain and those big orange Japanese fish. (I put a picture of the mall above.) Frankly, a very nice, normal American-ish mall. How many hours did we pre-teens waste away in a mall exactly like it?
And these girls thought it was by far the coolest, chic-est thing they'd ever seen.
I feel such ... responsibility to expand their horizons. It makes me want to go on more field trips, show them the world. The zoo maybe, the planetarium, the museum (all of which are in Sao Paulo), maybe even the beach. (It's three hours away, and almost all of them have never seen the ocean.) I want to start book clubs and open their eyes to what's around them. Education is EVERYTHING, people, it really is. And we have no idea how lucky we are to actually know (and CARE) about what's going on in the world - or better yet, to have seen it.
I am feeling so lucky. So blessed. So ungrateful for what I have.
But at least that last part is changing ....