Julio playing silly!

While we shared the cup of milk, the twins gave each other hugs (and me too!) as they were very happy.

This morning we supposed to have a staff activity, but I wasn´t in the mood with all the problems that have been going on, and they needed someone to take care of the kinder and the babies, my favorite groups, so I took on the responsibility and played with them in the therapy room. They were all over the places, but I found myself enjoying every bit of it, and it was not difficult at all to get them in control. And they all trusted me and looked up on me, so it made it really easy to deal with their behaviors, whether be good or bad. Even when I needed to be disciplinary, such as Jhonatan whom I took him out of the room for a little while because he pinched Franklin still held tight of my fingers through the window. So I waited with him until he was ready to come back in, said sorry to Franklin and started playing again.

In the afternoon, I had a few therapy sessions, including one with the twins. Therapy sessions now just run like clockwork because they behave so well now. The one with the twins was a lot of fun. They obviously don´t have a lot of exposure to many things, and so I would try to show them new things every time opportunities come. Jhonatan is actually really smart and alert, and he always does this loud "huh?" when I told him something new, as if there were ten thousand question marks over his head. It was so cute. José Luis is the naughty playful one, who often pretends to be angry with me, hits me and then gives me hugs and says "cariño" (love), while Jhonatan is more loving and deep in feelings. Today after some work, I made a cup of hot milk and shared with them because they behaved really well in therapy. Because it was hot, I needed to feed them with spoon and blow to cool it off a bit. They loved it, and suddenly they did this thing of hugging each other, and showing their love to each other. They gave me hugs too! It was really sweet. Afterwards, I took them in their room and we watched the Norwegian version of Teletubbies together from Cristina after they took a bath.


Jhonatan enjoyed his freshly fried hot papa frita!

While waiting for the dishes, they both made silly faces all the time.

José Luis found another smaller triángulo.

They both screamed "triángulo¨ when they saw this sign, and ran into it immediately.

We stopped by the bakery and had some juice and cookies.

After cleaning up the room this morning, I took the twins out for the family outing. With the twins, they were so eager and it was definitely more fun! As a behaviorist, of course I did something that would make other kids jealous! Actually the volunteers had agreed that we won´t spend too much money each time as we don´t want it to become neither a spending spree nor a competition among volunteers, nor loss of the original purpose, a family getting together and enjoying each other´s company. But I had to do this outrageously for the sake of behavioral modification of the elder kids. Plus, I can´t deny that I am biased with the twins (also Lemar´t)!

First, we went for a walk, seeing different things, and they made a lot of comments of the things we saw. Because time was short and I wanted to take them on a motor-taxi, so we hopped on one. They were a bit scared at first, but they enjoyed it very much after a short while. Upon arrival in the village, we stopped by the bakery and had some cookies and juice. They often asked me to pick them up, especially when they saw big dogs around or whenever they feel like hugging. Although they were a bit heavy together, I really did enjoy having both of them in my arms together.

We ended our little outing with a pollo a la brasa (roasted chicken) meal. There were many ¨firsts¨ in this little venture. For starter, this was the first time they had this, and I wanted to take them there because I always find this place serving some of the most delicious I have ever had and I want them to try too. When they saw the sauce dishes (there were four kinds), they were a bit scared and didn´t want to try as they never knew them before. So I explained to them what kind of sauces there were, and we counted on the colors too which was a little educational and fun. They were too wary to try any of those, but at the end they tried ketchup which Jhonatan liked but not so much with José Luis. Suddenly, José Luis wanted to do No. 2, and this time I had to clean him up! This is the first time that I cleaned some kid´s bottom, and I managed to conquer one of my greatest fears! After he was done, we went back to the table and soon the food arrived, and fortunately the former incident didn´t spoil the appetite too much. They were so psyched to have French fries and a large piece of roasted chicken. For drinks, I let them choose between Inca Cola and Coca Cola, and they chose the latter. They never had much choices in their lives, and I felt like giving them choices is what a dad or mom would do with their kids. By the end, they actually said ¨mi barriga llena (my tummy is full) ¨ while they were holding their stomach with a frown (by the way it was really cute), which was the first time I have ever heard of them saying! Also, I had done something I would have never done for myself or anyone. While we were having the meal, there were a couple bees flying around our food and us, and the twins of course were a bit scared. I was so worried that they would sting them, so I forcefully pushed them away with my arm. Fortunately I had long sleeves on, but I would have never done it if it weren´t for them. It was definitely a fun and memorable afternoon with so many firsts. And they were all good.


Alondra and Lemar´t led the way! They are just the cutest!

José Luis with his chubby cute classmate.

Marcos happily showing the flag of Perú.

Jhonatan paired with Jhosmelyr.

While I decided to take a stroll in the village and tried to get online, I realized that internet has not been available for a few days. Of course, the power cut affected the network and it had not totally recovered yet. So I just wandered around, got myself some snacks and waited for kinder to be off school at noon and pick them up. Surprisingly, they were parading in the village, holding the Peruvian flag. Of course, it is going to be las fiestas patrias (a 2-day celebration of Peru´s Independence Day) next week, and the teachers told them out for a parade/walk while singing a patriotic rhyme. Lemar´t and Alondra led the way, and they were super super cute. Then followed them were José Luis with his classmate, Jhonatan with Jhosmelyr, and the rest kinda scattered around. They were so excited to see me too, and it created a little chaos, as they were supposed to be in line but some ran off to me. So I helped with the order a bit and walked along with them. When they were about to return to school, I said goodbye to them but they looked a bit insecure and almost as if they didn´t understand why I had to go. Separation is definitely hard for them to deal with, and actually for me too.

There is a new activity the volunteers has been doing that we take the nuclear family members (of course exclude the parents) out for an hour, either it be a walk by the river or playing game with them together. The point is to get them together to do something fun as they don´t do so often. The first group I had was a group of 4 sisters, whom are a bit of a problem always. The eldest two were really fussy and kept making negative comments about it. In fact, some of the kids reacted in similar ways. We ended up canceling the session. So I had a talk with Tía Catalina about it, as it was getting a bit out of hand. In the evening after dinner, we had a talk about it with all the kids, and of course I had to use some behavioral technique to make them feel regretted. And we were harsh too as some of them don´t seem to appreciate the things we plan for them. The ambience was a bit tense and many of them looked really shocked the way I reacted as usually I am docile, but somehow we need to make them realize that they need to be considerate to other people´s feelings. Afterwards, an older kid, Alcides, came up to me and made a humorous comment, ¨Tío, tell me who bothered you, and I will go kiss his ass!¨ Of course I said it´s ok. I really hope that they do change their perspectives when looking at things, because they need the right and positive kind of thinking to move on in their lives.


Since I came back from my break on Monday, there has been three days without electricity on and off. It happened at night almost every time, and that made it super inconvenient. We ended up dining and spending the night in candles, which actually made the evenings a lot more romantic. It was actually quite fun despite the inconvenience.


Extra cute pics: July 2010

José Luis playing ´rafting´!

Julio showing me the birds.

Lemar´t felt a bit cross with this plastic octopus.

Claudio with a drip of ...

The twins in the cutest pajamas ever, me and Franklin.


Lemar´t´s early bedtime....at the dinner table.

I helped Jhonatan change his pajamas.

Everyone was quite hyper by showing me their stuff before bedtime. Left: Joanca wrestled with Marcos. Center: Franklin showed me a painting he did in the morning. Right: Jhosmelyr and her beloved Anita.

José Luis in his cutest pj. Actually Jhonatan has the same one too!

Alonso in his bed with his Barney.

After being sick again and stayed in bed for the whole day yesterday, I finally got better and was able to eat something and got myself moving for my weekend off. This week, though, in comparison to last week has been much more ´tranquilo´ and less dramatic. I have been quite busy though because I have been planning more activities with the kids as well as the local workers for whom I am planning to do training workshops. But more importantly, I just wanted to spend more time with the kids. Three days from today, it has been six months already since I got here! And I found myself to have built a really strong bond with the kids. Franklin called me "Papito" the other day, which means "Daddy"! Actually sometimes I feel like a daddy to them, as I play with them as well as discipline them when they are naughty. I help them with their homework, bathe them, take them to bathroom, change them and put them to bed. I enjoy every part of it, and it is always a joy to spend time with them even though it has its hard part. Whether it is Jhonatan gripping my fingers so tightly when he was in bed or Franklin arm-wrestled-like hugging me when he was falling asleep, it makes all the pains worthwhile.


A Sunday´s Peruvian dog experience

The kids gathered around our tv and watched the World Cup final.

Jhon Carlos helped combing the kids hair before we headed to church.

Jhonatan finished his candy after a traumatic cry.

Poor baby, he looked so worried before heading to the clinic and get that shot.

If it wasn´t for the NPH website, I wouldn´t take this horrid photo! My heart went way down when I saw him like this.

It has been a crazy week! The Rustic Pathway group came again on Thursday, and they played with the small kids. But these teenagers didn´t really know what they were doing and how to deal with the kids. The worst was that they let the kids destroy some of the materials we have in the therapy room! As my friends know, I got really freaked out when people messed up my stuff. What´s worse was that it took a lot of effort in fundraising to have these materials, and it wasn´t easy. I burst out in tears just to see all the mess and I had to leave the house to chill myself out. After dinner, John suggested that we went out together for a little break and so we did. Funny there was a dog kept following us. I got to say as a dog lover, I hate Peruvian dogs! Basically they aren´t well domesticated like those at home, and they tend to bite and bark. But this one was just following us, as if he wanted to protect us on the way. She even followed us back to the house! The next day we had a meeting with Tía Catalina about this, as it was getting out of hand. She was very supportive, and she later in the day talked to the organizer about it and asked them to replace those materials that were ruined.

Friday the kids and some of the tíos had the H1N1 vaccination in our clinic. Most kids cried and got freaked out naturally, but they all got through it. I carried some candies with me to cheer them up, as some of my babies like Alonso, Jhonatan and José Luis cried so hard. They were so traumatized after the shots that they even couldn´t hold the candy in their mouth! While I agreed to help Tío John take some photos for the NPH website, I spent a lot of time comforting them. Lemar´t was really funny as it was only for 4 years and up. But he thought he needed one, so he kept saying no to me. Plus, he dragged me everywhere far from the clinic! I asked him if he was trying to escape, and he said with a smirk, "¡Sí!" There was a change in duties this week after 6 months, and the teenage kids shift their responsibilities around. The greatest switch was two boys taken over kinder and two others over the babies. The babysitting posts used to be an all-girl team, but now it´s all-boy! It´s funny to see them work with the younger kids, and I think it's a brilliant idea because the younger ones should be exposed to female as well as male siblings and it shouldn´t be just a girl´s job.

After lunch today, we watched the World Cup final together. All the kids and tíos were together in the dining room watching the game. I was rooting for the Netherlands, as it has always been one of my favorite national teams, and I happened to have brought a Netherlands orange tee with me. The favoritism in the house varied, some supported the Netherlands while others supported España. But the real fun was really getting to do this with all the kids. At the end a lot of us were a little disappointed as the Netherlands lost, but Tía Noelia, who is in Lima this weekend watching the game in the Plaza de Armas, must have been ecstatic! By the way, the dog that followed us on Friday keep hanging out in the home these few days, and she seems to like us. I am still a bit cagy about her as I was once attacked by a dog here, but she seems quite docile and the kids have been playing with her a bit and it went fine. The kinder kids though were a bit wary and scared, but Franklin and Joanca kept teasing her. Anyhow, I was glad to meet a Peruvian dog who is actually nice!


Lemar´t dancing in the party.

Walter was practicing football with us.

Jeferson playing the skateboard as a bodyboard!

The kids and tíos were cheering for the volley teams.

The twins were all over me at the Teacher´s Day celebration.

Jhosmelyr was too shy to dance, but she tried!

Perú is a country that has lots of celebrations. Since I arrived there had been countless of celebrations from Children´s Day to Pisco Day. Today we celebrated Teacher´s Day, and the kids had a day off and arranged an array of activities for us. We played a few games like orange peeling and eating contest, quizzes and treasure hunt. It ended with group dancing, before we took our lunch outdoor. In the afternoon, we all watched the World Cup match with the Netherlands vs. Uruguay. Being in a football fanatic continent, the folks here paid a lot of attention in the games and it was really fun watching with them. Milagros handed me a bowl of popcorn, which was prepared for all the ¨teachers¨. The little ones, Franklin, Marcos, Joanca and Alonso all came around me and I gladly shared with them. At the end, the Netherland won and was qualified in the grand final, which noted the last Latin team being eliminated.

After watching the game, we all played sports, which were football and volleyball, the two favorite sports in the house. It was really cool playing with the kids and tíos, and we all had so much fun, even though I sucked at both sports. Walter and Tío Jhonatan taught me and Noelia how to play football, and we all practiced a bit. By the end of it, my legs were super sore but I really appreciated them teaching us. Sometimes I worried that I sucked so bad that I would ruin the games. But Walter encouraged me and told me that no one is perfect and it just takes practice. He is such a great kid, and he has become my favorite youngster. It had been a great day, because we seldom played together, and today we spent the whole day together doing fun things, which is very important as a family.



Lemar't carrying his birthday present around with him all the time.

The twins were playing tickling with each other!

Yesterday, I finally felt much better after resting a lot for a few days from being a bit ill. The kids, however, made it all easier for it. Jhosmelyr and I have been growing in our relationship, and she is being so positive and good lately too! I am so happy she is being more stable emotionally. She came to me all the time and gave me hugs, and told me she loves me. I was so touched when she said that, and I told her I love her too! Just before dinner started, I went to greet my favorite boys, Lemar't and Jhonatan. While Jhonatan wouldn't let go of my hand, Lemar't was requesting kisses from me. It took a long while before I could get going. In fact, I didn't want to leave them if only I could have dinner later. Jhonatan has been doing so well, and he has been growing intellectually and mentally. He is so funny too, like everytime when he saw me, he would say something funny in his squeaky voice, such as "me toca?" (which means, "my turn?") or "vacuna?" ("vaccination?") when he saw my finger with a bandage on it. And he loves me praising him.

It's hard to believe that it is July already! Today just before I took off to Lima and after lunch, we celebrated the birthdays of Brígida, my fellow psychologist, and one of my favorite kids Moises. It was really cool as usually the celebration takes place after dinner, and so it was a treat to do so in the afternoon because I wouldn't have been able to celebrate with them since I am in Lima this weekend.


José Luis just finished a mouthful of milk powder!

Lemar't enjoying the canchitas!

José Luis too with a handful!

Jhonatan was so concentrated on enjoying the canchitas and sitting on my lap.

Today supposedly we were going to the church in the morning, but Lemar´t and the twins were left in the home, so I chose to stay with the three of my favorites her! We played together, and then I made popcorn and got a bottle of fizzy drink for us to share. It is always nice and fun to share food with them. There was a funny moment when I went to my room to get something, they ran and followed me, and eventually got up the stairs and entered my room! The three monkeys were running around, jumping on mine and John´s beds, and it took a while to get them all out! I gave them some milk powder to eat, which was one of my favorite ´food´ as a child. They all loved it, thus obviously have the same taste as me. Eating milk powder isn´t that popular in most people´s thought, but somehow I just love it, and so did they. Although they could be a handful, I just love the quality time we could spend together. They were also extremely funny, like while Jhonatan held my hand and tried to take me somewhere, José Luis would pull his nagging face and asked me to get him, in the meantime Lemar´t would yell really loud to get my attention. And they all wanted me to carry them at the same time! That´s only can be done when there was only one there, and I would take them to play swing, take a walk or simply carry them around. Naturally, there were a lot of kissing, and I would tell them that I love them.

While I have been doing therapies with a lot of kids, I don´t want to forget the really good kids who actually deserve some attention to facilitate them to do even better in the future. That´s why I started a group with the three kids who have most potential, and they are extremely great kids too in many aspects. Today was the first session with Moises, Leticia and Milagros, and they had no idea what was this for. I explained to them that they have a lot of potentials and prospects to do well, and I would like to help them achieve high goals. Of course, they do need more stimulation like imaginative skills, decision making skill, analytic skills, as well as qualities that are yet to be learned such as being proactive and believing in themselves more. They are indeed the best kids in any places, responsible, respectful, polite, hardworking, smart and kind to everyone. I really hope that I can facilitate a bit more and help them achieve their goals and dreams. And we had so much fun today with all the activities that we did. I am looking forward to them blossom!


José Luis pulling his funny nagging face!

Jhonatan screaming through the window, "Tío Ryryan", and showed me his pirate boat.

Renzo made a bike from clay putty by himself!

The twins were just too cute and too sweet sometimes! I feel like that they really see me as a very close family member. José Luis, for instance, has recently been nagging me to stay with him. If I went away, he would nag and pretend to cry! Jhonatan has always been sticking with me a lot. He, on the other hand, would yell my name until the end of time! Actually it happens to many kids as well. Jhosmelyr, for example, has been hugging me and looking up for me. This morning when I was having breakfast, the kinders passed by, and she saw me and told me Joanca had done some bad things! It was hilarious! She really cares about what I have to say, as a couple days ago she pushed Marcos, and she did the same last week to Joanca. So I told her I wouldn´t forgive her this time as it was the second time in the week. She was so sad, and in fact it was hard for me too, but for the sake of teaching her, I had to be tough about it. When they were all in bed getting ready to sleep, she tried to talk to me, but I told her, ¨I didn´t want to talk to you now!¨ Immediately she covered the blanket over her! It was quite funny actually at the time, and tia Sonia and I couldn´t help but giggle! Of course, the next day I was already talking to her, but I also reminded her not to cause any damage to others. So now she has been telling me what others do!

I have scheduled a few therapy sessions in the weekends I am here, and today I had four with the boys individually, including Ademir, Luigi, Renzo and Jeferson. They were really awful in the group session a few weeks back, so I figured that they aren´t ready for group work yet. Individually they did great and behaved like angels! And I think also that since the last horrific group session, I told them off seriously, and since then I didn´t do any therapy with them. So they were all pretty excited to do therapy again and therefore probably tried to behave better. There are a lot of skills they are lacking, such as basic cognitive skills, language, imaginative skills, positive values, just to name a few. I tried to do my best to facilitate with various activities so that they can take advantage of what I can do for them.


My sweet Jhonatan covered in paint. He gave me a tag on mine and Cristina´s faces too!

José Luis was just as cute as a teddy bear! He actually looks like one!

Alonso was having fun with one of the teenage boy from the Rustic Pathway group.

Jenny, on the other hand, was freaking scared of strangers. I was sitting with her here and paint with her.

I went to the kitchen and made some popcorn as reinforcement during therapy. Walter was helping in the kitchen and helped me with it. He is a really good kid, very responsible and helpful all the time. After we were done, I asked him to take some, but he refused and told me that he has more food than the little ones and told me to give all to them. I was so touched, and this kind of things makes me feel immensely worthwhile to be here.

In the afternoon, a group of American teenagers of a group called Rustic Pathways came and played with the kids. They played with the kinders and babies today. I was helping out with the kinder group, so I went with them to paint. At first, they all painted quietly and properly, but after a while they started putting paints on their hands, and pretty soon they put them all over their faces! They loved it, although it was a bit messy. Jenny was very intimidated the whole time, though I never realized that she has problem with strangers as since day one she seemed very happy and sociable, at least with me. So I spent most of the time with her, and helped her paint and play. As they were all covered in paints, we went back to the room and they went bathing. While the Rustic group was still here, Jenny cried really hard as she was feeling a bit insecure. So I took her out and went to play with her in the playground. She started calming down as we were alone together and she felt more secure. So I brought her back to the baby´s room where she was supposed to finish her homework. She gave me hugs so tight that hardly could I depart from the room. She is just the sweetest girl, and I should pay more attention to her and help her with her sense of security.