What a super duper long two weeks this has been...this is the first time since the students arrived that I have actually had time to sit here and even think about writing. 30 students from Canada are here working with Solidarity in Action in different placements around Lima. Liz and I are helping in every way that we can. All week I have gotten the chance to be in the orphanage! I have gotten to spend every day with my kids! I love and miss them so very much!
A little background....we first came to Lima and worked with Solidarity in Action in February, after our time here Larry (the guy who started and organizes the groups) asked us to come down and be a part of their project for these two weeks. The students got the opportunity to see the "shanty towns" of Lima and make a lasting impact on these people. Their eyes have been open to an all new world and many of them have mentioned that they would like to do more work like this! Of course...I am super happy about that! The had the opportunity to teach English in a middle class school, work in the orphanage playing with the kids and cleaning and organizing, building onto the orphanage to make a bigger space for the kids, and working in a school for mentally handicapped children. They also did a project in one of the poorest areas of Lima where they picked up trash and planted some grass and a few plants to make them a "peace garden" since all of their living space is sand. By doing this project we have left them something to take care of and be reminded of the people that came from Canada to help them make their lives a little better.
Thursday before the students arrived we got to visit the orphanage and see all of our kids! As we were walking up the hill one of the kids was outside...he just started yelling and telling all of the other kids that we were back! Before we could even reach the door they were all out in the street screaming and hugging and kissing us! What an amazing feeling to see these kids after so many weeks and be able to hug them and tell them that we missed them!
After the students arrived late Thursday night, we got up Friday morning and took the them to visit all of their potential placements. An eye-opening experience for some but an amazing time to get to show them all that they could do in their short time here. Saturday we were supposed to do a dental campaign inside of a building in a very poor part of Lima, when we arrived the building was locked and their was noone to be found. We had taken the orphans with us, so we started playing soccer...as we played soccer more and more people arrived. Eventually we busted out the toothbrushes and toothpaste and started showing the kids how to brush their teeth...right in the middle of the soccer field! Everyone got a new toothbrush and some toothpaste and hopefully enough teaching to keep their teeth for a bit longer.
Sunday was a beach day...before the start of a crazy week! Little did we know the extent of this crazy week...little sleep with lots of work and lots of happy Peruvians! Monday we arrived at the orphanage first thing...to be greeted with those beautiful faces! Liz unfortunatey was placed in the clinic with 2 students this day, but she got to join us most other days. I had three students with me playing with the kids and teaching them English. The kids love to learn, they love to ask questions and have to attention that they are not getting.
Tuesday Liz and I ran a health campaign in this same poor community (Pacifico), with 4 students. We basically did what we did when we were here in February, identifying lice, flat feet, cavitites, and scabies. We documented all of our findings and gave it to the community director. But, as we were doing this a mom brought me her little boy who had an infection on the side of his face. The mom said that he had had this for almost a year, you could tell that there had been abcesses in different places on his cheek but he had one that was pretty full of infection. Since I didnt come prepared for this sort of thing, and we just happened to have our friend who is a dentist with us, I asked her for something with a point...I poked the abcess and a ridiculous amount of puss began to come out. One of the students was helping me hold the little boys head and unfortunately a large amount of that puss squirted straight onto her shirt! oops! Luckily she saw it as humerous and had a great story to come back and tell the rest! I told the mom what prescription to buy (because we did not have any with us and you can buy whatever medications that you want at the pharmacy here) and covered it. Unfortunately I saw the mom a few days later and she told me that she didnt have any money to buy the prescription.
Wednesday and Thursday were spent at the orphange with my kids! Some amazing times were had with them...cant wait to come back and see them again! Friday was the students final day of volunteering, so we took them around once again to see the things that had been done at each site. The construction on the orphange was amazing! they did half of the concrete floor after moving dirt in and out and all around...they painted and did lots of other odds and ends. Friday was a very special day! When we arrived at the orphanage the kids put on their dancing outfits and danced for us! So cute and amazing! A married couple that was working with us that live in New York, raised money to buy a wheelchair for a child that has cerebral palsy that spends alot of his days at the orphanage. They got the honor of presenting the child and his mother with the wheelchair! This child is 7 years old and the mother carries him around all the time...I cannot even imagine! The tears were streaming down everyones face, and the mother just cried and thanked them over and over. Amazing!
Thursday night we invited Clara, the lady who started the orphanage, to come and share her story. This lady is amazing! She was a teacher and some years ago would have kids come over to her house to learn how to read, there were kids who were sleeping in the street so she slowly started taking them in. As time went on she says that she could not leave the kids in the street, so she just started taking them all in! She is truly amazing, she takes very good care of the children and they all love her tremendously. I look at her and hope that someday I can be where she is today, she is such an inspiration to me! As she shared, the tears ran down my face...I can only hope that I have half of the impact that she has had on so many children/people!
3am wake-up call on Saturday morning to head to Cusco! We arrived in Cusco, found our beds and set out to see what we could find. It was sureal being back there...such an amazing place with amazing culture. I loved being back there and seeing Liz experience it for the first time. Sunday morning was another early wake-up...so we could spend the day at Machu Picchu! Our train left sometime before 7 and we arrived in Aguas Calientes before 9. Unfortunately I slept most of the ride, since I hadnt gotten much sleep, so I didnt get to enjoy what I missed the first time when I hiked the Inca Trail. But, I did get to walk into Machu Picchu when it was beautiful and sunny and I wasnt exhausted. Machu Picchu is a beautiful place with so much mystery...and noone to tell what exactly happened but most definitely a spiritual center. So mesmorizing how much that they knew so many years ago...this year they are celebrating 100 years! A place that I dont think I could ever get tired of...
I was sharing the other night with the students after one of the girls made a comment about wanting to do this again and again and maybe for the rest of her life but her fear is that her family and friends will not support her. My response was to follow her dreams, to do what she loves and to keep an open heart. I feel so blessed to be where I am today and to have my family and friends to support me. I honestly cannot believe that I am getting to follow my dreams and that I am where I am today...I have truly been blessed! I honestly feel this way and I want these young people to understand that they can have it too..if they stick to what they think and believe and live for what they want out of life it will eventually come. I have spent more than 10 years of my life doing short term trips, travel nursing, and living my life to get to where I am today...and I want to see as many people have the opportunity to live out their dreams as well!
We just got off of skype with Paul (the one that we are working with in Pimampiro) and things are going well up there. He is in the states now and is preparing to come back and get our house together! We are working on getting the money that we need and starting the construction ASAP. We are hoping to get this project going as soon as we get back up there...which is only a few days away! Also...forget to add this in up there but as I was riding the bus down from Machu Picchu the other day I was sitting next to an older lady who was on a trip with 18 other "older adults". They are traveling around seeing the sites of Peru and Ecuador, the lady behind us heard us talking and chimed in. She is a rotarian and wants to help us out! She is going to get us the contacts that we need and the information that we need to share with the rotary in our area...and hopefully this will lead to an excellent relationship with them! Crazy how we are put in places for a reason...and how God just works things out!! I live an amazing life!
This morning we left early and arrived back in Lima. We are back at the convent and preparing to leave on our 26 hour bus ride to Guayaquil tomorrow!