22 a 23-4-2010

Me and Jhonatan.

Jose Luis trying to show how old he is .... missing two fingers, cariño!

My Angel.

It's been over 3 months since I got here, and I can't believe how time flies! Things have been going ok, and we had a really constructive meeting yesterday and are trying sort the problems out.

Moises, who is 13 years old, is one of my favorite kids here, very proper, intelligent and respectful. And he is one of the very few kids here who are not behind intellectually, and he does his homework diligently. He's been borrowing mp3 players from his friends in school, and everyday he showed up with a 'new' player, but it's either missing headphones or battery. So he comes to me and asked for help, as he knows I like these kind of stuff too! I was always happy to help him out. Since I use my headphones at night too, I asked him to return to me at 9pm when he sleeps. He knocked on my door at 9 but I was in the shower and I totally forgot it was him. After shower, I went out and he was waiting for me outside! He is such a great boy, and I do hope and truly believe that he will have a bright future ahead of him. He told me before that he wants to study Accounting, but I told him that he should look out for more possibilities, because in general they don't really know much about the types of careers that exist, and he can and should definitely explore more choices as I believe that with his disposition, intelligence and personality he can do very well in whatever he does. He then told me that he may want to be a pilot, which is also a good option!

23-4-2010: I left the home early morning instead of 3pm for my break because I will return early for a family lunch on Sunday with Father Philip, who is the Executive Director of NPH International. But before I left, I went to greet the twins, Jhonatan and Jose Luis, whose birthdays are today! I gave them huge hugs, kisses and identical lollipops. They were so happy and kept saying in their cute voices "a mi?". And I told them they are no longer 3, and they are 4 now. I always think it's important to teach kids this cognitive concept since they're young. It was Alonso's birthday 2 days ago, and we had a chocolate cake and a new train set for him. He's such a good boy too, as he has earned even more smiley faces since he spent all for the swimming pool trip 2 weeks ago! I told him that I'm so proud of him, and he has the cutest smile on his face. Next week on Thursday it will be Lemar't 's birthday. Cristina and I decided to throw a party for all of them! It'll be so much fun I'm sure!


After a long time cooking, we enjoyed our ´fruits´!

Everyone tried to grab the spring rolls by chopsticks!

While deep frying ......

All had learned to wrap the rolls.

I saved some wonton wraps and meat for today's second part of the cultural class, and we made spring rolls instead of wonton. The kids anticipated it so much and asked me many times when exactly is the class. In fact, they kept raving about lunch yesterday, and it made me so joyous that they loved it so much. Anyway, I prepared the filling ahead of time as it involved a lot of grinding and chopping, and really didn't need kids around me to do so. They waited for me at 4pm sharp and we headed to the kitchen and started wrapping. We did it super fast as there were many to help! And the frying process took longer, but Agustina and Mayra helped with it while Milagros helped cleaning. They were so excited, and so was I! Anyway, they had loads to eat, and I saved some for other kids who helped me a lot in the past two days, other tios and tias and the kinder kids. It has been a fun and rewarding weekend, and I feel so blessed that I'm here to share what I can offer to the lovely children and youngsters here.


One of my favorite youngsters, Benito, who were surrounded by a few younger gals calling him ¨Papa Benito¨! You can tell how nice he is from this!

The Chinese meal I prepared for everyone!

Elvis, as well as the other kids, were so excited about this meal.

After much planning and anticipation, I finally fulfilled my goal of cooking a Chinese meal for everyone. I went to the market with the crew, consisted of the older kids including Benito, Ahias and Walter. Going to a local market was quite an experience, even though I come from Hong Kong where the markets freak most gringos out when they see it the first time. I managed to get everything I needed, although it wasn't perfect because there weren't all the exact ingredients that I wanted. Oh well, I can survive with it. And the boys were very helpful, especially Benito who rushed others to do things quickly as he knew that I needed to rush home and prepare the dishes. He's one of my favorite youngsters here, who's very courteous, responsible and has really good manners. And he posesses many good qualities such as sensibility and respect that a lot of youngsters of today and even adults lack.

Immediately after returning home, I started cooking right the way, and fortunately some kids came to help me, and they were interested to learn. It's the first time I had to cook for 80 people, and it isn't easy at all! The menu was: HK style Swiss wings, fried and boiled wontons, fried rice and HK famous milk tea. The most proud for myself was the milk tea, as it's pretty close to restaurant standard in Hong Kong. The kids loved the food and they kept saying "tan rico" which means "taste very good". One older boy, Rafael, who doesn't eat meat since he went to the market once (somehow I can understand why), so I stirfried some vegetables with garlic for him. At the end, everyone thanked me and gave me a warm applause, and some went to me and gave me hugs. The whole meal costs about 300HKD, which approximately equals to a Japanese dinner or half a buffet dinner in Hong Kong, or a fraction of what we spend on dinners in New York City. Honestly, this worths so much more than one or even half of those relatively expensive meals we consume all the time, and it has made all the kids ecstatic and happy. I really don't know exactly how to put my sentiments right now in words, as I'm totally blown away by the "values shock" I am experiencing right now.

"We could easily spend money on things we don't really need, but if spending it wisely, if can make a big difference in many people's lives. " Now, I don't just understand it, I live in it.


Kinder´s lunch time!

Anabel having lunch in our table. We had egg, rice and beans!

Cristina with Franklin and Marcos having club sandwiches and fresh peach juice after swimming and playing in the pool.

Franklin had so much fun at the pool!

The three boys who gained most ´smiley faces´got their tickets to the pool!

After my chill-out weekend, I was fully energized and able to deal with some of the issues we have. I'd read somewhere before I came here that working in an orphanage in a developing country can be frustrating, and now I totally understand and feel what it meant! But, the bottom line is that I'm here for the kids, and I need to think of their benefits first. They are the main, if not the only, driving force for me to be here. I truly love them, and I need to be here to help and protect them despite a few frustrations. One good thing is that our home director is very supportive of all the professional work that we do, and that makes it easier somehow.

On a more positive note, the three kids who gained most smiley faces had a surprise last Saturday, which was going to the pool in a nearby nice hotel! It happened to be my weekend off, so I couldn't attend. But, I made them "pasaje para un buen niño" (ticket for a good child) as a symbolic mean of their achievement. From their smiles I could see how proud they felt about themselves, and it helped motivated others to work harder too. So they went to this pool with a water slide, and they were so psyched! And they were so proper and well-behaved throughout the whole time that they didn't seem like they're from dyfunctional homes. I felt so touched and proud of them, and they would have a lot to tell the other kids, and now of course they always ask for 'pasaje'! LOL

Therapies continue to blossom and the kids are making great progress! They are speaking a lot more, but the most noticable is their behaviors, which are almost close to perfect now! Although there're still a few things needed to be sorted out, they have changed drastically, and even the local tias, who were not supportive at first, now see the differences that we've made and are much more respectful and courteous to us now. In fact, their workloads have decreased as well because of therapies and better scheduling! Tia Bertha, a teacher in the niñas section, commented to me that she has noticed how the kinder kids had changed and the room seemed so peaceful now! I was so happy she said that as outsiders can see the progress as well!

Another thing that had made me very happy is that Leticia, a 14-year-old girl, told me how she enjoyed the class of psychology in summer and she thought it's a lot of fun. She also asked me if I can organize a class next year. Somehow I thought they didn't enjoy the class because it involved a lot of concepts that required them to change their perspectives and forms of thinking, which was a challenge for a lot of them. But it was good to know at least she enjoyed it and got something out of it.

Just before therapy on Tuesday, little Jhonatan ran to me and said hello, but suddenly his pants fell off! While it was quite comical, I realized that the pants were stretched out, and he had to pull them up to his chest! It's funny how he knew that and did it by himself. Another thing is that their shoes are either too big or are poor quality flip flops that cause blisters between their toes. They do need some new clothes and shoes badly!


Piura - Colán II: 11-4-2010

The beautiful Esmeralda beach lined with coco palms and posadas.

Overlooking the beach at a balcony of Hotel Luna Nueva.

The golden sea at sunset.

Me, Dani and Hernan at dinner together.

Overlooking the beachfront through the window of my room. Simply the best way to wake up in the morning!

Seriously I hadn't had a proper holiday for a while, so I decided to go to a beach town up north, Colán. First I took an overnight bus from Lima to Piura, which is about 15 hours! For that reason, I went for a very comfy sofabed seat, including 2 meals and purser services. For about 45US I think it's a steal! Surprisingly, there's wifi in the bus too, so it kept me very busy! The only problem was that my iPhone went out of battery very soon! LOL. Anyway, I rested quite well and got a bit accomplished through my iPhone.

Arrived in Piura around 2pm, and there was little reason to stay there, and so I went straight to the bus station going to Paita, where is the gateway to Colán. The 50-minute bus ride was pleasant with good view and nice breeze. Upon arrival, I immediately hopped on a colectivo heading north to the beach town. In the colectivo I met two new friends, Dani and Hernan. They are locals but happened to head there for vacation as well. We broke the ice by talking about the Chinese culture as they are fascinated by it. And I gave them a packet of TongRenTang Chinese Medicinal drink to try, as they asked me about alternative medicine in China, and I tried to explain to them as much as I could. On the way, Dani showed me the oldest church in South America, which happened to be in Colán.

After millions hours of transportation, I finally arrived! Before I got here, I wondered if it's worth it to travel all the way to somewhere I had never been to nor knew little of it, but once I set foot in this tranquil and pristine beach town, I knew I'd made the right decision. The three of us went to find a place to stay first, and we found a nice hotel called Hotel Luna Nueva, facing right to the beach. There were a pool, hammocks, a restaurant and all the amenities we needed. And it's only 15US per night! I got a room facing the beach with huge windows overlooking the Pacific Ocean beach, and so did they!

Soon after settling in, we went to hit the waves together, which was super fun! Hernan and I both reported that we'd both been turned around in the waves at least twice! The water here, unlike many beaches lined the Pacific Ocean, is tepid due to the warm current of the Niño. Afterwards, we hit the pool and played volleyball together, and again it was super fun. When the sun started to set, we went to the balcony watching it going down into the water of the Pacific. We had dinner as well together. Hernan sneezed a little, so he tried the chinese medicine packet, but I don't think he appreciated the bitter taste! So it was fun, and Dani and I encouraged him to just chuck it all in at once. Fortunately, the food arrived soon and we shared a dish called Parihuela, which is a mixture of seafood cooked with garlic, onion and the Piura-famous lemon (it's called limón but really looks more like lime). It was super delicious, especially the broth which was sublime! Having seafood is the best thing in a coastal town like this. When I thought the night was over after our lovely dinner, Hernan knocked on my door and invited me to have some wine with them at the balcony. Facing the Pacific as well as the city of Paita, Dani, a native of Paita, told me lots of history of Paita, while we all chatted about everything from our families, cultures and traveling to work, food, wine and architecture (Dani a civil engineer and Hernan an architect)! We finished around quarter to one, and it's definitely time for bed!

The next morning at eight, I was waken by the sound of the sea, and overwhelmed by the beauty of it through my window. I went out for a long walk along the long gorgeous beach lined with posadas and palm trees, and some exotic birds and a huge tortoise were enjoying the beach too and taking a rest after some serious swimming and flying around! And the sand this morning was gold in color! Usually beige, but it shimmered with sprinkles of gold sand! Having been to Caribbean beaches, I must say even though there's no white sand and turquoise water, The pristine northern coast of Peru makes one feel super tranquil, relaxed, "grand" & "big"! (Probably due to the wider and more profound Pacific Ocean as opposite to the smaller but more colorful Caribbean Sea). Now I can understand how it inspired Ernest Hemingway to write "The Old Man and the Sea" here. (Well, exactly it was in Cabo Blanco, where is further north but is reported less attractive nowadays)

The owner of the hotel let me have a late checkout til 2:00pm when I'm ready for lunch before heading back to Piura. After enjoyed more beach time and floated in the pool watching palm trees swayed by the breeze, here I am swinging in a hammock and eating a guanábana flavored ice lollies as I keep up my journal, my troubles have swung away and am ready for the next two weeks of work.

Piura - Colán I: 11-4-2010

A huge tortoise rested at the beach with us.

The fisherman started fishing in the morning.

Big Bird? Haha.....it was resting at the beach too!

The beautiful gold sand!

The oldest church in South America, Iglesia San Lucas.

Lima II

Marina Mora...who can remember who she is?

Parque Kennedy at night.


Lima I

El Puente de Los Suspiros in Barranco, Lima.

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Parque del Amor.

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean from LarcoMar, the most upscale shopping center in Lima, just right off the cliff.

Pasaje de Los Pintores in Parque Kennedy in Miraflores, Lima.

Flags of all Latin American countries flying in front of the Congress in Lima Centro.


Lemar´t having fun at the pool during therapy.

The kids were happy coz they won stars on their faces during group behavioral therapy!

Jomi tried on the balancing beam while Samanta encouraging her.

Marcos on the balancing beam first.

Lemar´t pretended eating an orange.

I felt quite accomplished today as Lemar't finally is making some progress in pronouncing more than 1 syllable words! In fact, I've changed the schedule a bit so I'm doing therapy with him daily, while maintaining other therapy schedules. He has shown a lot of signs having some sort of developmental disorder, but we can't do assessment unless we are sure as it's too expensive here. Anyway, I suggested to do more intensive therapy with him for a couple months and see how it goes. If there are still going slow and he show more signs of developmental disorder, we can request an assessment for him. Anyway, it's going well, but definitely he's not yet learning in a normal speed as other kids are. The rest are doing very well in behavioral therapy, and I'm happy to see them become more positive and strive to be better! The result is really astonishing by just changing the environment from negative to positive! One thing I had them rid of was that they always said "no" to the caretakers during daily routines, and believe me, it's contagious! But little did they know that I'm a compliance control freak, now they know better not to say no all the time! Haha

On the other hand, a teenaged boy, Luis Torres, came up to me and told me he's kinda sad because he missed his mom. I felt for him, and really there's nothing to do except giving him a long big hug and told him that I'm here for him. His academic level is very behind and comprehension is very low. Nonetheless, he loves to learn and always want to learn more things. It's taught me that we really should treasure our strengths and abilities that God has granted to us and use them fully, wise and as much as we can.


Extra Photo 2: March, 2010

Franklin climbed in the top shelf of the cabinet, pretending sleeping.

Jhonatan and Alonso also pretended sleeping in the cabinet.

This s the outside of the classroom. In fact, it is very dusty because the paths aren´t constructed at all. And there are tons of glassless windows, and it can be quite windy in Lunahuana. I can expect that the classrooms can get pretty dusty.

Some kids from the home, including Agustina, Anita, Ayita and Hector are in this class. The classroom has no light, solely relying on natural light through the glassless windows.

Carlos Torres and Marcos working on maths homeworks.

Extra Photo 1: March, 2010

Franklin playing with his reinforcement: Balloon!

Lemar´t was also playing with his reinforcement.

Lemar´t fell asleep at the table right after finished his homework.


The kids working on a poster about China. They also drew monuments like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City based on the postcards.

The all competed to use chopsticks well so that they can eat as many crisps as possible.

When it kicked off, they were having tons of fun!

Milagros practised writing in traditional Chinese brush.

Our cultural event finally kicked off! First stop, China! Well, bits of Hong Kong as well. Thanks to my friend, Lydia, who sent me tons of materials such as postcards, Chinese stationery and chopsticks. I had set up four tables which contained many things of the Chinese culture. A group of kids who're interested in learning about different cultures got together this afternoon. We first learned about different interesting sites in China through postcards, such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tsing Ma Bridge, Victoria Harbor, etc. Then, we learned how to write in traditional Chinese brush and ink. And they were eager to learn about different words in Chinese as well. The third event was probably the most exciting one, as they learned how to use chopsticks. Well, since I could get hold of any Chinese snacks here, I just got a bag of crisps and they use the chopsticks to eat them! Finally, we took what we've learned and created a poster together, which is posted in the dining room, so that everyone can see as well. They all reported to find it very fun and interesting, and to be extra happy because they got some postcards, a pair of chopsticks, the Chinese exercise book and a pencil with Chinese poems on it.


Jhonatan in therapy.

Lemar´t in therapy.

Marcos and Alonso getting off the bus from school.

Jhonatan carrying his backpack and snack bag!

Jose Luis in the car after school.

After the kids arriving home from school, I went to pick them up and greet them. They all were excited to see us picking them up, just like families do. And they are so cute carrying their backpack and mid-morning snack packs!
As usual, I had therapy sessions with some kids since we officially started last week. In general, they are behaving so much better and have improved a lot! Of course, it took some crying and taking consequences before they learn to behave well. For instance, little Jhonatan is so compliant and attentive now that it's a joy working with him. In fact, lately he's been doing this "ven, ven ryryryanan" thing (it means "come, tio Ryan") while he waves his hand and nods his head when he says it. It's super cute and funny! Next time I must capture that in video!

After therapy time, I also helped with the other kids' homework. They struggled a bit, but it just takes some patience and encouragement to help them improve. They are actually really great to work with, because unlike a lot of kids in urban cities who struggle with compliance and concentration issues, they behave perfectly fine and we just have to guide them think more multilaterally.