Friday, May 30, 2008

Journal-Vidya Goberdhan
My final day at the P.P.A. began, as usual, in assisting with the labor project. We were cheerfully greeted by our "compadres" - Alfonso and Salvatierra - two locals who regularly work on P.P.A. construction projects. Though our lives differ vastly from theirs, I am honored to have worked with and learned from them.
In contrast to earlier this week, I began to notice the headway we were making, and that someday soon a beautiful park will stand where refuse and dirt now lie.
Six members of our team of sixteen will be leaving after today, and, though exhausted, we have been touched and inspired by this experience. I am saddened to leave the P.P.A. and realize just how attached I have grown to the children and people with whom I have taught, played, worked, and laughed. As I reflect on this experience, I am reminded of the great mentors and role-models in my life. It is important to continue in their steps of inspiring and helping others to help themselves, even after your lives may go separate ways. That, if any, will be a lasting impact that will be valued in years to come!

Thought of the Day-Vidya Goberdhan
[Poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson on success]
"To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Journal-Emily Claypool
Today I helped with the labor project, which consisted of transporting rocks or "piedras" from one pile to the other. This was a little unsettling until we knew that a truck was going to pick the rocks up. It is always helpful to know the purpose of your work. It was also helpful to know from the meeting with Mili and Molly that we are part of a chain of volunteers which makes our seemingly futile efforts into something much more significant. In the afternoon most of the volunteers played soccer with the siblings because the younger children had gone to the circus. The interaction between all of the volunteers and the children from P.P.A. was quite beautiful. Every volunteer made sure to boost the confidence of each kid by playing at an extremely lower level. At first one of the siblings by the name of Astrid was very reluctant to play, however, by the end of the game she was laughing and even scoring goals. The most touching interaction was between Manuel, a thirteen year old boy, and my dad. Although Manuel tends to be somewhat distant since he is older and going through what all teenagers go through at that age I can sense that he really, really appreciates the attention and affection from my father. Only subtly will Manuel hold my dad's arm or even push my dad as a way of connecting with him. Although pushing may seem like an action of defiance I can sense that it is Manuel's unique way of displaying how much he cares for my dad.

Thoughts of the Day-Sara Aeikens
Six things for Aging Vitally with Joy:
1) Positive Attitude
2) Sense of Humor
3) Purpose in Life
4) Risking outside of your Comfort Zone (safely)
5) Spiritual anchor
6) Appreciating others and self more for Being in addition to Doing as you age vitally
"How you do Anything is
How you do Everything!"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Santa Anita

Journal-Megan Curry
Visiting Santa Anita in the morning gave us an insight into some of the realities that the kids we are working with everyday have to face outside the walls of P.P.A. The clean, organized, and well-kempt area in which we interact with them is not the whole picture-and it was very important for us to see this. Though there are many slums and they have their differences, seeing where the P.P.A. children typically come from gives us, as volunteers, a greater understanding of the conditions and hardships the children and their families face.
Molly's discussion about the slums in peripheral Lima supplemented our visual understanding of experiencing it first-hand. She explained that as a result of the government's lack of involvement, there is immense organization on behalf of the local residents. We enjoyed meeting and interacting with those at the soup kitchen and the day care, two examples of this organization. Children were intrigued by our huge bus, typical tourist appearance, and unique Spanish skills (bad).
The people were grateful for our visit, but we are even more grateful to them for allowing us to learn so much during our short stay. Afterwards we enjoyed a short lunch (by Peruvian standards-still an hour) and enjoyed splitting into our afternoon groups. The evening was spent at dinner with an optional trip to the Inca Market.

Thoughts of the Day-Megan Curry
"Embrace the inspiration."
To me, this trip is filled with moments of inspiration-and most of it comes from the children. I thought I would share a moment of my own. Martín was writing a letter to his mother which read:
"Mamita, te quiero mucho y con todo mi corazon"
"Mom, I love you a lot and with my whole heart"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Reality Day

Journal-Kathy Curry

Today was "Reality Day" at P.P.A., our first full day of morning and afternoon activities with the kids. While we are learning fast and furiously about how to spend some quality time with them, the reality hit us that we still have a lot to learn…
-We can remember the children's faces but can't seem to remember some of their names
-We seem to know quite a few Spanish words, but usually don't seem to have the right word at the right time
The reality that these adorable children are truly orphans or without parents who can care for them (with a future filled with uncertainty) is unsettling. The reality that the older children may be even more in need than the younger ones, but because of their age probably get less TLC, is also difficult to come to terms with.
The good news is the children are teaching us how to be good volunteers and seem to really enjoy having us around to laugh with and laugh at.
And despite being mostly "Type A" Americans, we're starting to really appreciate "Peruvian time" with our 2 hour lunches and the fact that if things don't start on time we can just mellow out.

Thought of the Day-Kathy Curry
[Since this trip has taken many of us out of comfort zone]
"Ships in the harbor are safe, but that is not what ships are for."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Journal-John Claypool

Today we were able to see the children for the first time. They paraded by us 2 x 2, blowing whistles, holding signs, and smiling widely. Their faces were so sweet. I'm not sure what I enjoyed more, watching the little children or watching the young adults in our group watch the little children.
Shortly after seeing the parade, we visited the children at the playground. They were very excited to see us, and just about every child grabbed our hands and asked or motioned us to hold them, push them on the swing or place them in a tree.
Mili suggested at our 1st meeting that we were here, in part, "to wage peace and promote justice". Although that seems a bit weighty, that is in effect what we are doing-unwittingly or otherwise. Every time one of us volunteers has contact with a Peruvian, we are hopefully implicitly sending a strong message-We Americans do care about the rest of the world.

Thought of the day-John Claypool
[Bearing in mind that it is Memorial Day in U.S.A]
Imagine if our government spent the same amount of money on volunteer programs like Global Volunteers that it spends on the military---perhaps eventually it would never have to spend any money on the latter.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

First Day

Our first day has been a "Getting to Know" day:
Getting to know Mili and Molly
Getting to know each other
Getting to know a little about our roles
Getting to know a little of Lima
After a buffet breakfast, our group had its first meetings, including a "name game", goal development, a discussion of team effectiveness needs, and finally the specific roles required at P.P.A.
Then a fish lunch, followed (for many of us) by a tour of Lima, a break, and a pizza dinner.
We had a good "Getting to Know" day, especially among team members.
Thought of the Day-Peter Jonas
"Hear what I say"
"Listen to what I think-and what I feel"

Friday, May 9, 2008

Last day at PPA...

Today was our last day at PPA. Mother’s Day is very important in Peru so it was a full day of programs from the children, including singing, dancing, poetry reading, and presentations of cards and flowers. The traditional clothing and the children’s efforts were wonderful.

I visited the toddlers for one last time. They are doing so well. It is so sad to leave them. They are very fortunate to find a safe haven at PPA but I wish for them a bright future in a safe and loving home. Our wonderful journey at PPA is at an end, an experience we will never forget. I believe we met our goals as an effective team. Each of us has been touched in a different way and we hope we have had a positive impact on the children. We missed Veronica the second week but her kind heart, high energy, and wonderful smile were with us. Thank you to our fearless leader, Edith. There is nothing she cannot do and do well.

Quote for the day: # 56 by Betty Okuma

Number 56, what a journey we have traveled
What have we seen
What small part of us do we leave behind
Veronica, Juanita, Felipe, and Betty
Inspired and encouraged by Edith
She opened our hearts to the children of PPA
She pushed and pulled us up the hill in San Juan
The children stole our hearts and will forever be part of us
The kindness of the sisters, brothers, and volunteers Will keep the dream alive until we return

Betty Okuma

A touch, a hug, a kind word can open a child’s mind to new things

One of the Okumas has fallen ill again, Felipe. I again assisted in the kindergarten classroom. They continued work on their Mother’s Day cards. They were very boisterous today, especially when a substitute teacher took over. When I tried to quiet them down with stickers, I had a sticker riot on my hands. They all wanted multiples instead of a single sticker as I had naively expected. I later joined Edith in distributing the donations from Global Volunteer team members. The donated goods go to a central location to be inventoried and recorded. Then they are invoiced for distribution to each area. The recipient verifies the number of items received and signs for them.

Juanita completed her work with Franklin and Ricardo which went well as usual. She had her last English class with the boys and bid them hasta pronto. This was our last day in our work groups due to the Mother’s Day programs tomorrow.

We completed the day at Barranco which was a very unique area, formerly a fishing village now converted to a beautifully renovated area of restaurants and bars for the younger crowd.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Our Journey continues...

Our journey continues. Due to my illness I shifted to assist with the kindergartners. They were very loving, boisterous, and attentive. They worked on Mother’s Day cards and hopefully will be able to spend that day with their Moms and families.

A thank you program in the main building for the brown lady volunteers was very nice, especially the role of the children who were selected to perform traditional Peruvian dances. They were so cute and confident. It was heartwarming. The kindergartners also presented a lovely thank you card to the brown ladies.

Juanita continued with her morning schedule of working with Franklin and Ricardo and Felipe with Alonzo in the garden. Alonzo expressed that he was very appreciative of Felipe’s assistance on the grounds. They think Felipe is a professional gardener (huh?). Edith noted that Franklin and Ricardo are developing a special bond with Juanita. Juanita and Felipe said farewell to their ‘favorite’ English class of girls.

Nine toddlers are available for adoption and currently Fatima’s is in the works. She is being adopted by a Peruvian couple who have been playing and working with her in the toddler area. She is very sweet and boisterous and is regarded in a heroic sense by the helpers and other toddlers as she is usually the one pushing the wagon when they go for a walk. Yea Fatima!

We finished the day at Café de la Paz at Kennedy Square and the Indio Market.

Quote for the day: Haiku by Betty Okuma

A single child in
A single moment can move
A mountain given the chance.
Betty Okuma

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Working hard...

Juanita continues to work with Franklin and Ricardo in the morning reading three books and doing some crafts. I continue working with Alfonso behind the laundry. We did finish the project today. It really looks 100% better than when we started. Eventually the area will become a basketball court and park for the older children.

After lunch Edith took Juanita and I to the open air market to buy cookies and a shovel. Found the cookies but the shovels were too short.

In the afternoon, Juanita and I had the boys for English and taught them names of animals and making sentences from the names of the animals. We also taught them numbers 10 to 20 in English.

In the evening Edith went out of her way to take me to Ace Hardware to get the shovel that I wanted. It was an adventure taking the vans. The shovel that I wanted apparently are not sold here in Peru.

The long day was ended by having dinner at Juanita’s favorite restaurant San Antonio’s.


Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday! Second week...

Start of a new week without Veronica and Betty out sick. Juanita started the morning reading to Ricardo and Franklin, Green Eggs and Ham three times. Also drew pictures of Hostal Torreblanca from a postcard that Juanita brought. Morning was capped off with a reward of a Dona Pepe candy bar.

I started the day working with Alfonso, the gardener. Through sign language and some rudimentary understanding of Spanish I determined I was responsible to move a pile of rocks and debris. It was back-breaking work. I was given a shovel that broke in half. At lunch I asked Edith if she could one day take me to the Mercado so I could buy Alfonso a new shovel. As always, Edith said no problem.

In the afternoon, Juanita and I taught the third grade girls. We were ready to teach the girls English but they all brought their homework. We let them do their homework which was simple addition and subtraction. We observed that all of the students were not able to do simple addition and subtraction in their heads. They had to use their fingers. We decided the next class we would do flash cards to help the girls do addition and subtraction without using their fingers.

Phil (Felipe) Okuma

Friday, May 2, 2008

The end of first week...

My last day of journaling. Veronica’s last day with us at PPA. I shall miss her sensitive exuberance. Now it’s just the reserved Arizonans remaining for next week. Betty is back with us and we were able to take our group photos wearing our Global Volunteer tee shirts in front of Hostal Torreblanca.

It’s a beautiful day ending a magnificient week at PPA. We attended to our morning assignments. Veronica and I were with Franklin and Ricardo. Their patience span is very limited and we have become realistic in our expectations. I have learned that the children respond to incentives or rewards for motivation to work. The beanie babies have worked in that behalf. I saw Felipe helping Edith place the 80+ chairs getting ready for this afternoon’s movie and popcorn fiesta.

Well… movie time, drinks, and popcorn was great for the 3, 4, and 5 year olds for the first 15 minutes. Then concentration began to break down. I think the kids loved the whole idea of the event. The photo op was great but as sister Anna Marie appeared, all cameras vanished, only to be clicking away again as soon as she left the building. I came to PPA to photograph the children and photograph I did.

As I close my part of the journal writing and end my first week, I’d like to reflect upon some thoughts: Many years ago I planned that Global Volunteers was going to be one of my choices for a new beginnings when my husband died. Eight months ago my husband passed away and shortly thereafter I contacted Global Volunteers. I was prepared to accept the unwelcome circumstance in my life. Therefore, my thought for the day is: “Be prepared to explore and implement new choices for new beginnings in your life.”

Thank you to Edith, Veronica, Betty, and Phil for sharing so much of your hearts with me and becoming my forever friends.

Quote for the day: The Art of the Possible by Alexander Stoddard

“Think about a river,
See how it flows and runs its course
Water must have freedom to flow
When it does not, it overflows and erodes the land
We need some freedom to flow, to let go and move on, to refresh ourselves, flow
with the ever-changing advent of life.
We will be carried through a wonderful adventure where unmanageable
occurrences become known to us, and we experience a part of ourselves
never before imagined.”

Another day and all new expectations...

Another day and all new anticipations as to our expectations of how the children will be on this holiday. Highly spirited as we soon found out with classes out and children playing all around the grounds. Betty went off to her beloved toddlers and Felipe remained back at the hostal due to stomach problems. And he finally agreed to taking a cipro. Veronica and I found our three boys Ricardo, Franklin, and Elias not in the study mode. It was challenging to ground them into a learning mode, so we didn’t. It was play, play, play. Our time with them was a little shorter, I think mainly because we were tired. We used the remaining time to visit and play with those adorable, loving, and fun kinder girls. What a treat for me! Veronica had already fallen in love with all of them during her last visit.

We then went off to the market to purchase goodies for tomorrow afternoon’s popcorn and movie activity.

Returning from lunch, we were greeted by Felipe who was eagerly awaiting our afternoon activities with the second grade boys. I so enjoy the pleasure I feel giving small gifts to the children. Today we allowed the boys to choose their own preference of beanie babies. We took photos with the boys throwing their beanie babies up in the air or carrying them on their heads. It was fun and tiring. Another day completed, each being very different from the one before.

Betty did not join us for the dinner due to a sore throat. We did, however, manage to have a divine dinner at Vivaldi… excellent ambiance, delicious food, attentive service, and live music. I know that we came here for the children, yet I’m having an absolute ball eating my way from restaurant to restaurant.

The remainder of the evening was spent at El Circuito Magico del Aqua… a water show more spectacular than at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Another extraordinary day comes to a weary end.

Quote for the day:
“Greater Good is not just a mantra.” It is also the name of a new publication: The Science of a Meaningful Life Greater Good published by UC Berkeley in California. Let’s all continue to be mindful of greater good.

Johanna "Juanita" Burton