My chicos doing exercise with me!

Anghello and Antoni are a lot more animated!

While waiting for lunch, my children all sat around me.

Lemar't leaning on me while waiting for lunch to be served.

Our lunch donated by a señora in town.   A lot more food than we normally get!

Claudio wanted more food, and there, I fed him.

Lemar't feeding Esmeralda, sharing his food.

Our sleepover night!
Jose Huari, Frank and me at the movie sleepover!

Nicolas, Kevin, Elvis and Nelson working hard on their project.

It has a such busy time, with 100 children and only 3 professionals in the field of psychology, there are so much needs in the home.  but I feel so good just being here, being the daddy of many many children, small ones and big ones.
In Casa San Francisco where I stay, the older boys and I have been much closer than ever.  They like showing me what they do, and now I do exercise with them daily.  They are very interested in learning kungfu stuff, but at the same time I explain to them how important it is to train other aspects like flexibility and cardiovascular strength.  
One day, Claudio called me “Papi!”, but then Lemar’t told me, “he is not your papi!  He is your tio Ryan!”  They just love to be hugged, and I love hugging them.
Leticia told me that the bullying from the pageant still affects her as a couple kids still don’t treat her very well.  I told her that it is their issues if they don’t treat you right.  You have done nothing wrong but did everything right.  Just believe in yourself and not to be affected by people who are negative.  It is a very strong issue for the children here to cope, and they need to learn to be strong and believe in themselves.
Last weekend it was the Peruvian Independence Day holiday, and all the workers were off, and we volunteers took over the houses and helped with them.  We did things fun like playing with them, watching TV, movie night with popcorn and followed by sleepovers.  And we got to give them a sense of responsibility that they needed to finish their chores before we did the fun things.  It was so much fun!
Next Saturday we will have a talent competition, and the kids are so excited about this!  They are working on their projects very hard, and often ask me to look at what they have done.  I feel so proud of them, and even the children who have a lot of problems are working really hard together!  I was so touched to see them collaborate so well and do something so positive together.



Kebi asked if he could eat the apple peel that we peeled of for the fruit salad.

All volunteers worked hard to get the fruit salad done early in the morning.

Just a short note that I would like to express how strongly I felt about this tiny event:  A 10-year-old kid Kebi, who came from a home of violence and negligence, came in while we were trying to get the fruit salad made on time for breakfast.  He saw the apple peels and said excitedly, "this can be for eating!  Can I eat them?"  Of course we said yes.  What a contrast with children in Hong Kong who believe that apple are cube shape and yellow in color!  Despite all the problems here, whenever I see the kids and interact with them, I always learn a little something that would benefit me for the rest of my life!



Hector with his acne cream.

My precious Francesco when I said goodnight to him.

Antoni and Anghello with their bottles ... and they are holding hands!

Gilmar making a car with mud!

In the past few days, it has been crazy with work, lots of preparations, meetings, and cleaning of the therapy room which hadn't been used for over 6 months due to lack of therapist.  Plus, discussion with other volunteers about how crazy it is here with work ethics, human resources and among other things.  But after spending a second with the kids, everything becomes beautiful again.

As I stay in the house with the boys, I got to spend more time with them as family, and help them with little things like carrying lunch and their school bags and stuff.  It feels very satisfying to spend quality time with them.  Francesco always asks me to spend the evening time with him, and even though I can't do it every night, I would at least make an appearance to say goodnight to him.  The little ones always go crazy when I enter their house, and at one second I would have ten little kids with twenty arms all around me.  You can say that I am here to share my love with them, but in fact I receive loads of love too.

I also got to spend some quality time with the boys as well.  A lot of them are in their adolescence, so it is inevitable to have pimples on their face.  They ask me how to treat them, and so I ask them to wash their face, and then I put some acne cream on them and make them some chrysanthemum tea for them.  Even though it was a bit bitter for them to drink, they finish and keep asking for more next time.  And also I got to help them with their English homework as well as play with them.  Rafael, for instance, has learnt some card tricks over internet, and he has mastered them and showed to us.  It was fantastic!  

Virginia and I had been cleaning the therapy room for 2 days straight as well as doing the inventory.  It was such hard work as the floor is not tiled so it is very hard to clean.  And the office is provisional and made of wood, so it is super hot in there.  But we have got a lot more facilities here thanks to the donation made by some canadians.  We now have a computer (which looks like those in the 1990s), 2 work tables for the both of us, a storage cabinet and loads of materials.  It is so much better already than the year before.  And Virginia is such a good collaborator in cleaning and organizing, so it was a joy to do that.  And David, the handyman, has been super helpful in many things, and he's so efficient!  He helped us fix the tab which was leaking, fixing some of the materials, hanging stuff on the wall, mending some places with cement, etc.  And he did all that in half a day!  It is always great to have such collaborators and it just makes life so much easier.


Claudio and Julio, 2 best buds.

Me with Franco, Jenny and Lemar't out in the field after a window falling incident!

Antoni, my darling, with our kisses.

Lemar't and his new outfit.

A super excited child and a super excited tío!

After a week of intensive visits of the entire home, Virginia and I have loads of ideas to do with each home.  It's just a matter of sorting out the logistics and facing the reality that we actually don't have enough time and labor to do everything that we want.  It is much easier this year with a lot of improvement in terms of living conditions, policy, etc, but at the same time some of the core issues still are evident and i don't think it will ever change.  Actually I have become a good support for the rest of the volunteers because I completely understand and feel for their frustrations and it is indeed difficult to work in such conditions.  But at the end of the day, it is the children that matters.  Ok, enough of the politics, it has been heaven being with the kids!  Bittersweet, super sweet, sad, contented, all these emotions come across all throughout the week and it is indeed a bit hard to take in just one week.

The biggest shock was probably meeting a child name Evaristo, who was being rescued from the street with no home whatsoever.  What's worse is that no one knows when he was born, meaning that we don't know when his birthday is.  Can you imagine yourself not knowing your own birthday?  It is plainly awful.  Certain things in life that we take for granted we should really appreciate.  He has some sort of violent tendency, but given his background it is completely understandable.  Besides, he is just a child and very sweet.  

The girls section has improved so much that all the girls that were really cross before are now very happy.  It just makes me feel so good that they are much happier now.  Thanks to Tia Maria who has made such a difference in the home.  She is such an initiative, creative and super loving and caring tia who genuinely cares about the girls.  Bravo Tia!  We all love you!

Kinder, on the other hand, has had tremendous changes.  All the tias whom I trained were all gone and replaced by some mediocre or even below average ones.  One of them actually expressed to us that she is here for the money and will quit in a year time.  Another was just not apt to work with the little ones.  For instance, yesterday I realized that Lemar't had a fever once I picked him up, but then she insisted that he was ok.  So I asked for a thermometer, and she actually put the metal bit out instead of inside of his armpit!  Finally we knew that his temperature was 37.5c and she gave him some medicine.

Kinder was just divine though!  All of them have grown so much, not surprising!  But as their tio Ryan I am super pleased and happy.  Claudio can speak so much!  One of the triplets, Antony, is just super cute.  Every time I carry him, he would kiss me on the lips over and over again!  Jenny is just as sweet as ever who always give me hugs and big smiles.  Franco is just a comedian!  He is not verbal at all, but always carries his big smile on his face, and always asks for attention.  Last but not least, my dear Lemar't, is trying to speak so much although his articulation is quite poor.  But he is a lot more outgoing now.  Sometimes he calls me "Papi"!  And whenever he sees me I can see an angel in him.  

The rest of the children and older kids are also very sweet as well.  Francesco, for instance, still tells me how nice I was to him when he first came in, and always said "I love you, tio!"  He always jumps on me and let me carry him.  I really do love him too.  Every time I see Milagros and Myra, they always give me the biggest hugs.  And even those who don't express themselves very much usually had said some of the most beautiful words to me during our dinner.  Really, my return has made them feel that I truly care about them.  And really I do!  They are my family, and always will!



Claudio playing around with his spoon.

Antoni who always kisses my lips!

My Lemar't just got off school.

Finally I'm here! Super excited that I could spend another year in NPH Perú! I was warmly welcomed by Monika, our volunteer coordinator from Poland, at the airport. We spent a day in Lima, with me getting a few more things and her getting ready to pick up a new volunteer from Argentina, Virginia. On Monday morning our national director Alfredo picked us up and took us to the new home in Cañete, starting our full year of commitment in the home. The moment that I arrived, there were Milagros and Leticia among others ran and gave me the biggest and warmest hugs. Of course I couldn't wait to go to see my little ones who were having lunch. When they saw me, a quiet room filled with hungry children suddenly became chaotically noisy! I was filled with joy to see them and their purest and most innocent acts. My arms can't even wrap around all of them! I lost count of the kisses, but a lot of them are actually from Lemar't. Upon my arrival we had already had a couple meetings in this week of orientation. There are certainly a lot of work to do in my part, and my responsibilities already gave me loads of pressure. But it's all worthwhile when I see them smiling and yelling my name from afar, just to say hello or good morning. I feel truly blessed to be here, even though our living condition is quite crazy at the moment. For instance, the water apparently is too hard to consume and could cause kidney damage among other things. As we are sorting this out, I just have to be careful with my health. Another aspect is nutrition. I have already stocked up a few things like herbs, Chinese teas to keep myself healthy and balanced, while having bought milk powder to share with the kids. I know that it's gonna be a great year!