Tuesday, November 27, 2007

November 22, Evening

Ivy Kaminsky

What a day it has been! Our team had the distinct pleasure of being honorary members of the PPAs 25th Anniversary celebration. There were fireworks (the burning of the castle) and lots of wonderful performances by the children.

My new friend, Tanya Perez, (a twelve year old girl), made this day and evening a very memorable one that I will never forget. Why this beautiful young girl chose me to befriend, I’ll never know, but I’ll always be thankful for. Even though we didn’t have a common language to speak, I think we understood each other. Over our last couple of days I came to understand that she would be doing a dance performance with her friends during the celebration. Around 5 when it was looking like that part of the festivities were over and we needed to get going to dinner, I wasn’t sure what to do. It didn’t look like she was dancing after all. She really wanted me to stay and see the end but others were saying it was all over until later. Most of the team headed back to the office to get ready to leave for dinner. I was also supposed to be going to the travel agent to finalize our Machu Piccu plans. Somehow none of that seemed as important as seeing Tanya’s performance. I could tell it was really important to her that I be there. I waited and finally after all of the little children were led out, there were a couple more performances. Tanya and her friends danced to a song from Belinda and another group of teenage girls sang and danced. Tanya was right in the front center of her group and I almost didn’t recognize her with a pink baseball cap on. I think I have an idea of what it must feel like to be a proud parent at a dance recital. They were extremely cute in their tentative teenage way. After her performance Mantas and I rushed to the travel agent, took care of business, and rushed back to meet our special dinner guests, some of the children of the PPA. It was a nice dinner and a bit of a wild ride back to the PPA with many pictures taken.

When we returned to the PPA for the final part of the celebration, Tanya sought me out again and we enjoyed the festivities together. She also gave Edith a note for me and Mantas that she wanted her to translate for us. It was so sweet and heartfelt. How did I get so blessed to have this beautiful young person in my life? And to have her make such an impact in such a short time?

I began this trip as a person who doesn’t really like children. I am an only child who hasn’t really been around children much and didn’t feel like I knew how to interact with them very well. While moving furniture around the newly renovated toddler area I got a crash course in interacting with the little ones as I would go by their cubes and try to make them smile. By the time we made it to Cusco and Machu Piccu I found myself making faces at any small child I encountered. All I can say about this whole experience is - what a difference a smile makes!!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

November 22, Thanksgiving Day

Eric Lilja

Tomorrow will mark the final day of Team 46´s adventure in service here at PPA. It´s been an incredibly exciting, albeit sometimes exhausting 2 weeks. As I reflect this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for each and every moment. While the comforts of home (or a 5-star hotel) and the friends and families we´ve missed await, it´s more difficult to leave here than I´d ever imagined it would be.

Today´s celebrations of the PPA school´s 25th anniversary underscored for me how special this children´s haven truly is...it´s a safe and caring place where love is given freely, talents are nurtured, and hope is offered for a brighter future. PPA is a home and a family in every sense of those words; and we were fortunate to have been so graciously welcomed.

We came here with hopes of giving to these children, but I believe they´ve actually given more to us: they gave us their openness, their strength, their love, their hugs & kisses, their smiles and their ENERGY!! And, we are all richer for this experience and their gifts to us.

The power of these kids is immeasureable. THINK of just how much they accomplish amidst adversity each day. IMAGINE what they could achieve given the best of circumstances....

I know we will carry with us memories of PPA for years to come. I, for one, will remember:

-- the little nino with the toothy smile (and bites he like to give my legs)

-- the screams of "a mi ma toca" while jumping rope with 3rd grade girls fighting to be recognized and praised

-- the "high-fives" from the chicos who joined in an afternoon pick-up game of volleyball

-- the spirited toddlers who shimmied the bathroom door - when they thought no one was looking - to go fishing in the you-know-what bowls

-- the bashful giggles of teenage girls who practiced the latest dance moves to their favorite singer, Belinda

-- today´s Thanksgiving dinner at Beer Chicken AKA Cerveza Pollo with a group of exceptionally well-mannered, thoughtful and truly thankful kids

-- and so many more...

What we received from these children will be forever and indelibly engraved in our minds. Will they remember us?? Have we made a difference?? I hope so; time will tell.

Gracias PPA!
Gracias Edith!!
Gracias fellow volunteers for making this an amazing journey!!!
Hasta Pronto

Two Thoughts for the Day (also from Eric Lilja):

I look into the window of my mind
Reflections of the fears I know I´ve left behind
I step out of the ordinaryI can feel my soul ascendingI´m on my way.
Can´t stop me now.
And you can do the same.
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
It´s never too late to try
What have you done today to make you feel proud??
--Opening lyrics to the song "Proud" by the M People

Now is the time to live your ideal life --Cousineau

Thursday, November 22, 2007

November 21

Beth Hoverman

I have been changed forever because of this experience. This week has been going by fast. As the end is in sight, I reflect on the young lives I have changed. I hope Princess (Rosa Cristina) remembers me since I will always remember her! My heart smiles whenever I think of her.

There is so much need here at the PPA, it's difficult not to get overwhelmed. But one thing that is not lacking is the loving, caring staff that genuinely want to help these children. We can all see how they prioritize the children's needs above anything else. The children are so polite and patient, I would expect to see sad faces here without a family but to my surprise they all smile and seem very content with their circumstances.

The standards at PPA have thoroughly exceeded my expectations. I am so blessed to know and see how these kids are taken care of.

Edith you are also a HUGE blessing to all of us & PPA - thanks for your unending patience with the (Peters) picky eaters in the group. I will always remember you for your phrases "don't worry, it's possibly and I know, I know."

Thought for the Day, Deb Connor

Everything that is done in the world is done by hope. - Martin Luther King

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

November 20

Ron McDougall

On arriving on our first day and taking the orientation tour, frankly my first impression was one of just a huge, run-down, complex of buildings. I thought, -wow, what have I gotten in to? The next day we were given our assignments and sent off to the various buildings to help kids. I must admit that I was initially disappointed in the "teaching" assignment. After struggling and failing to gain the attention of the 4th grade boys, I was disillusioned.

My frustration level was high and my satisfaction level low. But as the next few days flowed by, and I began to open my mind and eyes, the fog began to clear. I began to see the selfishness of my angst, and conversely, the total lack of selfishness of the PPA staff.

The exterior of the PPA is badly in need of work and paint. The job is so immense that one doesn't know where to start. But as you begin to look around you see the staff of the school in constant motion. From the headmistress to the gardner, everyone has more than a full plate. Each individual is focused on his task. Whether it's Sra. Conception or Sr. Napoleon, all are centered on their service. Having had a week to observe these people I came to realize their dedication. Dedication is in itself a noble virtue, but when coupled with obvious sincere love for these kids, it becomes a CALLING.

As the day goes by and you see the staff interact with these urchins, you see connections firmly made but not in anger. And further, you see hugs and smiles, and other forms of affection given out liberally by every staff member, regardless of their role.

There are 500 kids here who have to be bathed, fed, - and led DAILY. PPA makes this happen every day of the year for these needy kids. I am in awe of the magnitude of this task and yet they make it happen so seamlessly.

Yes, the kids are rambunctious and a challenge to control, but rarely are they rude. I now recognize they are learning far more here than I could ever hope to teach them.

So although the school is seedy and in disrepair on the outside, inside beats a sincere, caring and loving heart for each and every child.

What have I learned?

I came to the PPA with the idea of teaching English to young kids. The first day was a blow between the eyes with a 2x4. These kids had no interest in learning anything I had to offer, which is a slap in the face for an ex-teacher. So I went home grumbling about the affront to my excellent skills.

But Edith's constant drumbeat of "flexibility" continued to resonate in my selfish brain. And again, the fog began to clear.

I began to see that it wasn't about me -- but about THEM. I was focused on myself and not on them. For someone who spent 30 years in the Army, an organization dependent on order and obeying, this has not been an easy task for me. I have come to recognize clearly, however, that a hug and a few jokes with them is far more of what they need -- not my English.

Thought for the day, Don Marshall

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiansms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be witih those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt - At the Sorbonne, Paris 1910

Pero que no camina, no encuentra hueso. The dog that doesn´t walk doesn´t find a bone or you can´t succeed if you don´t try.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

November 19

Mickey Marshall

After an exhausting weekend in the jungle we got up and headed for work. We have rearranged some of the jobs, but our kinder group is the same. Joann, Tom, Deb, Don and I went to our classrooms to help. My classroom is 20 three year olds who are finally remembering my name. Jorge, who has a fierce frown even when he smiles, sang a derivation of the song they are learning for the school anniversary "Que bonito, que bonito es mi visita". I sat down to play with them as there never seems to be a curriculum. The children know colors, numbers to 5 and some shapes. They fight a lot but the tears pass quickly. We play with various things in the classroom: puzzles, blocks, legos and clay. At noon I get a break and go off to lunch with the team. We talk a lot and then walk back to school. I have learned the way back as I think most of us have and we got to the office and loaded up with things for the afternoon kinder to do. Joann and I have settled into a routine of drawing and coloring with the girls, who number between 4 and 25 on different days. Some of the girls play school with me and give me a dictation. They are very strict and give me a B- today.

At 5 we cot back to the hotel and 2 took a load of laundry down to the laundromat about 2.5 blocks from here. It won't be ready until 7pm tomorrow, and there was no talking them into an earlier time. We went to dinner at a great place that served sandwiches, salads and desserts. Strawberries are in season and several drank a fresh strawberry slush that was delicious. Edith said they grow strawberries in the south near the coast. Peru never ceases to amaze me with it's huge variety of foods both familiar and unfamiliar.

Thought for the Day, Mantas Zupka

Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened.

Monday, November 19, 2007

November 17 & 18

Joann Miller

"The Triple Crown Tour"Sea level, 15,000 ft. and the jungle

Five of us went on the tour. With as much as we saw and experienced, any one of us could write a book - and every book would have a different twist.

I will give my version - in no particular order just re-living the events that will always hold a special place in my heart.We experienced so many things, i.e.

-swimming in a waterfall after trekking up a sometimes steep, narrow and rocky path about 3 km, give or take, or about 4 miles. Swimming was heaven and the waterfall was tremendous and powerful.

-staying the night in an enchanting and tropical paradise. Everyone called it a jungle but to me a jungle is walking through the Amazon - hot, humid, mosquitos and flies everywhere and a snake in the tree just waiting to drop on you. This was not like that. We saw all the tropical trees, plants, and flowers of Hawaii and many more. I think it is a tropical paradise.

-riding in a long boat which held 10 comfortably on a beautiful river that had a strong current.

-being entertained in a unique community of native tribal people who were charming, gracious, and fun-loving. They immediately dressed each one of us in a long brown gown, with a necklace of shells and a headband with two feathers. After listening to their presentation, each one of us was grabbed by one of the tribe and we danced, ran and sometimes flew around the bonfire. It was exhilarating and exhausting.

-getting a yellow fever shot in a space of about 15 seconds for each one.

-visiting a coffee plantation and an orchid nursery.

-waterfront dining under open air thatched roofs.

-seeing the most spectacular landscapes in the world at elevations of up to 15,000 ft.

-driving on roads that had more u-turns than straight-aways, mostly on the edge of cliffs.

There is so much more, but it would take far too long, so I would just like to briefly tell you how I feel about this total adventure; in awe of all that I have been fortunate enough to experience. Peru is a vast country filled with amazing vitality and a myriad of contrast.

Joy in seeing such healthy and loving children at the PPA.

Despair and hopelessness at seeing how so many have to live.

Greatfulness at all the kindnesses that have been extended to me.

Pleasures in meeting so many interesting people.

I took my first trip by myself in Samoa and stayed about three weeks, when I returned my colleagues at Olympic College asked me how I liked it, I answered "on a scale of 1 to 10,, it was about 300". I feel this trip is already about 300 and I have another week to go, so thank you all for being a part of it!

Thought for the Day, Tom Davatelis

It's amazing to see the many happy faces whenever we interact with the children of the PPA. Could it be that our presence helps to ignite these happy faces? If so, this alone is enough to have made our participation here worthwhile.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16

Tom Davatelis

Today we have reached the end of our first week of the program and our team has been reduced from 22 to 15. When we resume on Monday we will be down to only 10. HELP! Amazing Edith has already adjusted our assignments for the remaining ten.For me it has been a pleasure associating with such talented and skillful volunteers. We have a great mixture of all age levels and they possess a host of interesting experiences.

This morning Edith explained how our donations of supplies were distributed to the various classes. Edith also reviewed the pick up times for the two weekend trips to be taken by some of our remaining crew.

My morning assignment is with Carla´s class of a very, very active and noisy group (16) 4 year old children. And I was exhausted after the class was over: It was not what I had expected: Carla is wonderful with the children: She is always calm and very patient: My 2nd: day was better because I knew what to expect and just went with the flow; enjoying the challenging experience. By the third day it was enjoyable as I bonded with the kids and became quite fond of the little rascals. They are adorable despite their high energy level I think that I will have images of their happy faces for a long time.

My afternoon assignment is in the sibling program where family members get together because they normally don’t see each other during the day: four of us worked 7 children from ages 5 to 11. We tried to entertain them with various games and materials we brought from the office. This afternoon we were divided into 2 groups to prepare for the Cinema Project. One group had to hike some distance to haul back and set up 100 chairs while the other group had the more difficult task of slaving over hot kettles to make100 bags of popcorn. At 2:30 . We were ready to show “The Bee Movie” in Spanish and shortly after; passed out the popcorn and juice for every student. After the students left we began to take away and store the chairs while others swept up the floor.

Edith held a meeting before dinner to review our original goals and objectives to see if we had met our goals and expectations up to this date. Several of us offered our comments and suggestions. Some who expected to really teach English were disappointed that there was no opportunity at PPA to do this. Global Volunteers could be a little more specific as to the type of work that can be expected at the PPA. The majority of us, however, were flexible enough to quickly adapt to the unexpected day-to-day challenges. Overall, most of us are enjoying the unique experience that the PPA has to offer. It is both rewarding and satisfying.

Thought for the Day, John Haskins

What does working with the PPA and throwing a rock in the pond have in common? It's not the splash that counts, but how long the ripple lasts!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

November 15

Joanne Gardner

This morning the Tonito Silva group experienced a day at the therapy center. We took our 5 charges of varying facilities on the big bus-no car seats, no seat belts. The center is quite a facility with some major therapy equipment in the outside, all of which was donated by the Chinese. THE WORLD IS FLAT!

I realized today how difficult it is to be a physical therapist. A couple of the babies hated the tasks or were fearful and just cried and cried, including Mariano, who was mine for the day. We just wanted to quit and hold them and make them feel good, which is not the purpose of the program. The program works because we know the little ones are making progress, crying and all. How fortunate they were to have landed at PPA.

I helped to unpack the donations that the team made and I was very proud of us. First, the amount was amazing. Second, we brought things that are really needed. Both pharmacist and El Mana Conception, in charge of the toddlers verified this. She expressed a lot of gratitude when they were delivered and AGAIN when we met her in Magdalena Market later in the day.

Lunch included cerviche, which gave me pause to think about how much better, the food is than I expected. The variety of preparation is welcome and the variety of produce is just plain fun. Magdalena Market, where we shopped for popcorn, is a wealth of culinary delights and a riot of color with smiling people behind their wares.

The warmth of the people is the single biggest impact on my trip. El Mana Annamaria gives me someone to aspire to in both organization and a giving attitude. She always seems to have time for the children-by name-as she goes about running the home. Her Christian attitude shines through her actions. Even our cab driver tonight wanted us to “enjoy my country”. He was proud of Peru and it shone through.

Our siblings today were very well behaved. Maybe we do make a difference. Fernando did a puzzle of the US. Smart kid who could do very well if he stays with PPA and goes to high school. I got a big hug at the end of the day from him who is usually rather quiet and reserved.

Our little El Diablo, Terry, just confirms the fact that little boys are the same worldwide. With him, it will be “hang on for a wild ride but be prepared to laugh along the way”. I wish the best for all of them and leave of the little of my heart here. But I feel relieved they have the PPA in their lives because they are so well cared for and loved.

I saw the ugliest dog today I’ve ever seen today and he lives at PPA. It is a hairless Peruvian dog. Looks like he went to a blind barber with a lawnmower.

Edith tried to lose us tonight after the entertaining folk show. Glorious costumes and music highlighted the culture of Peru. Viva Peru, diablos and all! John, Laurie, Matthew and I (coincidence we are all from Chicago?) got into the first cab she paid. She neglected to ask him if actually had driven a cab before tonight, I think. Or she did not buy enough popcorn for all of us and needed to lose us. We got a private tour of the neighborhood while he used the map, the hotel card, the policeman and a man on the street to find the hotel.

This is my first program with global Volunteers and hopefully not my last. As a travel agent I’m glad to have the first hand knowledge of the operational end of the program. As a volunteer I’m glad to have lived the philosophy and heart of it. In the short we have had, we have bonded as a team and also with the kids. It may not have been exactly what we expected but I think we all rose to the challenge and moved nicely out of our comfort range. I think by the end of the two weeks all of our goals will have been met. Amazing!

Goals – Made friends, learned more Spanish, experienced Peruvian culture, had fun, took risks, gave love, became global ambassadors.

Thank you, Edith, for you energy, your knowledge, your Spanish lessons, your friendship and your heart. Hasta pronto!

St. Augustine said,” The world is a book. Those who do not travel read only one page.”

Quote of the day: Laurie Matthews

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness. (Mark Twain)

There is no such thing as doing great things in this world. We can only do small things with great love. (Mother Teresa)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

November 14

Judy Marshman

Today was our 1st day to spend at the Puericultorio Perez Aranibar arriving after breakfast we split into our chosen assignments. We were taken by "able" Edith to each area and our morning duties began.

Lunch was deliciously served again at Qubba's where we all shared our morning experiences.

The infants and toddlers brought much joy and a great appreciation for the staff that takes care of them and their needs.

The labor team accomplished rejuvinating the lockers. After lunch we assumed our previous afternoon play activities with the kids.

Tonight we shall experience the Indian Market and have a Chinese dinner. It will also be a farewell to some of our group. The experience and our new friends will be treasured forever. Adios amigos!!!

Thought for the Day, Carol Franti

Loss, tears
Runny noses,
Look beyond the seen, and
toward what is unseen and unknown;
knowing that your presence
makes a difference.
Freely give your hugs and smiles.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

November 13

Giuliana Lopes

It would be impossible to sum up the day's events with just one word. No matter how much Edith tried, you could never really prepare for an experience like the one we had this morning. Today we got to see the homes many of the children from the Puericultorio left behind and the terrible conditions some people live in.

I know I speak for everyone when I say how thankful I am for knowing and taking part in an organization that takes such good care of children in need. On another note: Dulces Suenos has been the highlight of my stay in Peru so far. Although a bit chaotic at the start, I managed to keep two ninas interested in Jorge el Curioso. An hour went by so fast that I even forgot to leave them the beanie babies. It was sad to say goodbye, but it's good to know they will all sleep on full stomachs, in clean clothes and warm beds.Thank you Global Volunteers and Edith for providing us with this memorable experience.

Thought for the Day, Jennifer Drodge

For over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living...
- Thomas Kelly

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

November 12

Thought for the Day, Joanne Gardner

Dream. Believe. Dare. Do. - Walt Disney

Matt Haskins

On Monday November 12, 2007 we started with our morning meeting after breakfast where we talked about some things that will coming up in the next few days. We also leaned that if we ever need to take a taxi that we should only use white or yellow taxi’s with a taxi sign on top. We then got on the bus that took us to the PPA where we stated out with a meeting. At this meeting we met the PPA staff where we attempted to introduce ourselves in Spanish and they introduce themselves where Edith translated for them.

Once the meeting was finished we then toured the PPA Campus. We got to visit the different homes that the children stay in. For the young kids the boys and girls are together, but the older children they are separated by boys and girls. We also got to see where the laundry is cleaned and the kitchen where the meals are cooked. From there we toured the school where we saw some children drawing pictures for a contest they were having.

Once the tour was complete we all went to lunch at Qubba where we had turkey with rice and lentil beans which was very good. Once we returned to the PPA we went to our afternoon assignments. I was assigned to work with forth and sixth grade boys. Today we worked with the six graders where we first had them draw pictures of their favorite sports. A lot of the boys drew pictures of soccer but others drew pictures of basketball and some even of video games. Following this session we took the boys out and played some sports (soccer / basketball / Frisbee) with them. They wore out the five of us that were with them.

We completed our day with a wonderful dinner where we enjoyed a very good fish dinner by the ocean and a little shopping afterwards.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunday, November 11

Thought for the day, John Gilfillan:

“To help a child is to help the world to begin again”. & “ No person stands so tall as when he or she bends to help a child”.

Sandra Gilfillan

Team 46 of the Global Volunteers in Lima, Peru. We had our first team meeting on Sunday November 11, 2007 at the Hotel Terrablanca. Our Team Leader, known to us as Edith, introduced herself and told us about her decision to join Global Volunteers last December. At her parents urging and to fulfill their dream for her, Edith had her documents at the Embassy awaiting final approval to join her sister in Toronto. After soul searching, Edith decided to follow her own dream and work through Global Volunteers to help her own people. I think I can speak for the volunteers in saying we are glad she made that decision. Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious.

Edith asked each of the 22 Team members to introduce themselves. We have members from CA to NJ and from Canada to Texas. Most of the volunteers are first timers so speaking as a veteran of several Global trips – you will gain lifelong memories during these days ahead. Edith gave a brief history of the PPA – the facility where we will be working with the children.

She then asked each team member to identify their 3 goals. After much discussion, the Team reached a consensus on the following goals: To learn about Peruvian culture; to make new friends; to give attention to children with love; to learn Spanish; to grow personally; to have fun; to be a global ambassador.We then identified the characteristics of an effective team including flexibility, communication, cooperation and unity among others. We signed a contract pledging to follow these goals and Edith promised to remind us if we strayed.

Finally before lunch, Edith outlined the projects which will be available. The morning projects include:toddlers, special needs children, hospital, kindergarten and labor. The afternoon projects include toddlers, kindergarten, siblings and English with girls or boys. She described in detail what each project would entail and asked each volunteer to chose a morning and afternoon project. She noted that the PPA staff will make the final assignments. She gave us a few hints about how to find our way when we become lost at PPA. Best that this writer could tell, you just keep walking until you see someone familiar.

After lunch, most of us took a 21/2 hour tour of the city. Alfred, our guide was knowledgeable, friendly and provided us with a good town experience. At the Plaza de Armas while we had some free time, my husband and I were approached by two young women from a local university. In addition to their regular studies in Journalism and Economics, they were also studying English at a private school. They were at the Plaza to conduct interview with English speaking tourists. They asked questions about our home county and about our impressions of Peru. Finally, they asked if there were any Peruvian habits that surprised us. We said that eating guinea pig was a surprise. They stared blankly at us and said they never heard those words. We have them a homework assignment to find out that English impression meant. After a great meal of pizza and beer, Edith sent us all to bed well-filled and told us to get some sleep for our workday on Monday.