Peru .... Debut

It still seems surreal to me that I am in Peru, and it has been an amazing experience so far!

19-1-2010: I arrived in the morning at 6:30am, and my coordinator, Wynn, greeted me at the airport. Unfortunately there was a bus strike so we couldn´t get transportation to Lunahuana. So we waited a bit for our National Director, Alfredo, to pick us up. So it was a little dramatic, but at the end its fine.

Upon arrival to the home, the people at the home was so hospitable and helped me with the luggages, including a couple older kids there. And I met my fellow volunteers, John from England, Noelia from Spain, Simone from Switzerland and Cristina from Norway. And of course, I got to meet all the children, all of whom were so excited that I arrived. A lot of them kept clinging on me, and started calling me tio, which means uncle. I felt so much like home and in fact it will be my home for the next 13 months!

Shortly after, we had dinner together, and many children asked me to sit with them, as they are divided into groups, and each tio or tia will sit at one of their tables. So I got a lot of pulling actions, but I just felt so loved and it really shows how much they want to be loved. In fact, it broke my heart a little when some of them looked really disappointed when I didnt sit with them....awwwwwwww

The food here, in general, is very basic. In the morning we have bread with some sort of condiments in it, such as butter, goat cheese or olives. Lunch is the biggest meal, so there are rice, some salads (with lemon sauce usually), and some sort of main dishes such as chicken, fish or beans. Dinner is soup, with rice, noodles or some sort of grains. And we have some sort of fruits in early afternoon before lunch. They are really good as they are organic and some of them are picked around the home. Food is good, but I´m still not quite used to some drinks, such as a drink called leche de colegio, which mean college milk. By all means, there´s no milk in it. I was told that there are flour, sugar and water only. Well, the kids seem to like it. Volunteers seem not. lol But the kids are super great, they eat everything in their plates, and never complain about their food. Sometimes they do have preferences, but they would eat the things they don´t like. Sometimes when they want more, I´d give them my portion, as I want them to be full. Occasionally we get fruit salads or ice-cream in case that there are people who donate money for us.

The kids are all so precious, but at the same time, once I get to know them more, they all have sad stories behind them. Some even have pyschological problems, mostly the elder ones. There have been numerous incidents that I felt so touched and afflicted with the kids already, and here are a few:

A kid called Jhonatan (it´s spelled this way) who is about 8, and he asked me how long I will be staying, and I replied 13 months, and immediately he gave me a huge hug. Man, I really dont know how I am going to feel when I leave!

Another Jhonatan, who is only 2, fell down and cried, and immediately went to me and asked for comfort. So I picked him up and hugged him and gave him a big kiss and he was fine. Its such a simple scenario but I just wish that they can have this kind of love and care as they grow up.

On Sunday, we all went to church in the morning. While the elder ones went to sunday school, the volunteers and the younger kids hung out in the town of Lunahuana. It was the first time I got to know the little Lemar´t, who is just 2 and half years old. This little boy has really become my favorite friend! We all had ice cream in cones. But then the kids ate so slowly and it was so hot and sunny, so we asked for cups for them. And while they were eating, We held them while walking around the town. I happened to hold Lemar´t, and he was such a sweetheart! He initated to give me a spoonful of ice cream and started giggling, and then he kept having a scoop of me and a scoop of him and giggling! When he finished with the ice-cream, we gave him the cone to eat, and he as well gladly shared with him (photo above). Talking about sharing, children in Hong Kong really need to learn! Anyway, he just loved to laugh, and I just love hanging out with him! Then we kinda hung out the whole time. He loves dancing, and we held hands dancing all the time! By the way, the kids love us holding their hands, and they would ask ´manos´ which means hands, all the time! And now they´re getting to know me more, they´d ask ´arriba´, which means ´up (carry me)´. Of course, I´m gladly to.

Walter, who is one of the eldest ones in the home, and who is currently in service in the home before attending college. He appeared to be really rigid and tough, and at first we didnt say much to each other. In fact, I was a bit scared of him. But after a counselling session with him and spending a few days with them, we started to be more relaxed and I realize how the elder ones feel about their lives and understand them a bit more. I praised him that he is a hard worker, which he really is as he is always on the go, and he replied to me that its just a way for him to pass the time. Wow, it really hit my heart and felt for him. So you can´t really tell a person in the outside, as there is always a story behind them. I just wish I could do my best to help them. He wants to study accounting in college, and I encourage him and I think he will do well in this career, as he´s very precise and responsible.

Sunday was also a day without electricity, so we all had dinner in candlelight! After, Wynn told me that there was supposed to be a welcoming dinner for me in town, and there was light there, so we all went. I had trucha, which is trout, I think....anyway, it was good. I also had yuca frita, which is like potatoes fries but richer. It was sooooo good!

This week, its gonna be tough as I will start developing different programs for them and there will be tons of work! I´ve planned programs including speech and behavioral therapy for children 3 to 6, cultural programs for them to learn more about other countries, some individual counseling for some troubled youngsters, and more organized English courses.

28-1-2010: Every Thursday, we have chores to do with the kids. Last week, we did irrigation, and this week we clean the lawns by sowing and pulling out weeds. I helped pulling weeds out with the kids. It was really hard work, but the kids never complain, and I just didn´t care if it´s dirty or not, or if there are any kinds of insects around, I just did all with them. I got to talk to Daniel, who is 8, and he is a really sweet and smart kid. He actually has 4 other siblings here, and they are all very smart. I guess it runs in the family. He told me that his mother died when he was 5, and his father couldn´t afford to raise them. So they are at the home now. He wants to study civil engineering in the future, and wants to build houses. I´m told that he does very well in school too. And he taught me some names of some insects we encountered. Also, we played a bit as well by scaring each other with fake insects. lol

In the afternoon, we had another counseling session with the eldest youngsters. As they were asked to write some strengths and weaknesses about the home, the strengths include having clothes to wear, having food, having shower, having furniture to put clothing in, etc. It really touched me when they actually can appreciate the most simplest things in life. They really taught me a lot about the values of life.

This night, it was the tios and tias who served the kids at dinner. It was a lot of fun, and the kids surely enjoyed it. At the end, we were introduced two new kids who will stay with us, Luigi and Marco (8 and 5 years old). I was so afflicted because I´m happy that they have a good home to stay now, but at the same time it means they don´t have parents. Another, as soon as dinner´s over, I went to visit them and I helped little Marco to brush his teeth. And I held him to make him feel secure, as he seemed a bit lost. He felt a bit better after I comforted and played with him, and he even asked me to stay in bed with him. So I stayed for a little while. He kept telling me he´s scared, so I kept comforting and kissing him. And he told me his mom is very very far away. I don´t know whether he meant she´s working somewhere or she´s not living anymore. Either way my heart´s broken. I just want him to be loved, and I told him that there are a lot of brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts who will love him always. They went to the hospital for checkups next morning. I was told my tia Flor, who went to the hospital with them, that he kept asking for me! I will definitely try to make him feel to be loved.

Also guys, I have donated some money to the home, so that it can improve some conditions, such as the beds in the toddler room. And I´m also planning to donate some to our Haiti, which was collapsed and many kids and volunteers lost their lives. May God bless them.

I´m in Lima for the weekend, as it´s my descanso (break). I´m out with Simone and Noelia, and we are in an area called Barraco, which is quite nice. I´ll try to update more.

Ciao for now!