Monday, June 30, 2008

Bricks in the foundations of a Growing Child

Thought of the Day: "One generation plants the trees, another gets the shade." --Chinese Proverb

The quote is perfect. It so conveys a begger picture of the collective purpose of Global Volunteers. When I first explored the possibility of serving as a volunteer, I wondered how the children at PPA adapted to so many different people coming to volunteer. It seemed as if life would feel like one giant revolving door with people moving in, staying for a very short amount of time and then moving on. I imagined that children might need to protect themselves with so many hellos and goodbyes, and perhaps be reluctant to embrace yet another group of volunteers. What I have come up understand is that the children look forward to each and every new team. Although each child I have met has a unique personality they have opened their hearts t the 59th team. And then will continue to open their hearts to each team that follows us. The words that our team leader expressed during our Sunday orientation come to life when you experience the history that has been built by prior teams. It is like each volunteer works and plays with certain children never knowing exactly what the impact will be. We all place several more bricks in the foundation of a growing and developing child but we most likely will never get to see the child again.
I can only hope and trust that sweet little Fabian will know that just as I have cuddled him in my lap on the long taxi ride to the deaf school that the next volunteers will as well. If you are lucky enough to spent time with Fabian you will soon learn that his smile and giggle will be one of the absolute best parts of your day. If each of us can work to strengthen the muscles of the children who need it, bring siblings together to play and enjoy each other, struggle with the high school girls as they learn more English, tuck just a few more toddlers into bed at night. If we can do our volunteer tasks with love and kindness for the children we have come to care deeply about them we have indeed contributed and we will have succeeded in placing a few more bricks to build a brighter future for the children who will undoubtedly wrap their hands around your heart just as they have done to me..and all in such a short time. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything! I feel honored to have worked with and been a brief part of the lives of the children and staff of the PPA and Global Volunteers. They provide the mortar that makes our contribution possible.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

To Laugh Like a Child

Thought of the Day: " The challenge is to be true to yourself and live as one. To laugh like a child and love with the power of your soul. To follow your own heart and act for the world." --Unknown

We're now a team of two. Katie's last day was Friday and Erin and I will miss her, as well the children at the PPA. We had an eventful day Friday with the morning spent at Toñito Silva and Erin working with her 2 guys, Franklin and Ricardo. The afternoon brought us all together to share Hulk 2 with the 5th graders. It was hard to tell what the kids enjoyed more--the movie or the treats!
It is so different starting week 2. We will be so much more familiar with PPA, the routine of the children, and our jobs. Erin and I plan on giving it our fullest--even though we are few in number, we are mighty in our desire to contribute and continue the work of Team Awesome.

P.S. Team Awesome celebrated Robi's birthday with style of Friday night--great food, great company, and yes, some Cusqueña which we have all enjoyed!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Team Awesome

Thought of the Day: "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." --Michelangelo

Time has gone so fast. It's hard to believe that tomorrow is the end of out first week. Team Awesome, formerly known as Team 59, has really bonded. I feel so blessed to be working with my 2 stateside teammates, Katie and Erin, our team leader Milagros, and Molly our team intern.

After completing our day jobs with Toñito Silva, working with Franklin and Ricardo, facilitating the siblings group, and teaching English to the 3rd grade girls, all 3 of us worked with the high school girls on their English and then read stories to the little ones (Katie and I didn't actually read due to our limited Spanish. We did a lot of single words, pointed, and let our 3 year old buddies take the lead!) We ended out long Thursday with a great dinner at Donatello. I think I can speak for all 3 of us, we thoroughly enjoyed the kids today and are so glad we chose the Peru site for our first Global Volunteers experience.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Different Perspectives

Thought of the Day: "The flip side also has a flip side." -- Chinese Proverb

Today was a day of different perspectives. Seeing life from the experiences of many of the children who live at PPA. We took public transportation to one of the many shantytowns of Lima. THe congestion of the streets, the competition of transportation vans for passengers, and the daring habits of Peruvians bring new meaning to the phrase "reach out and touch someone." It is amazing that side view mirrors exist on Taxis and vans! We learned about shantytowns from Molly prior to leaving--basic insight into how and why they exist in Lima. Our 2 hour 2 bus ride took us past a variety of visual images--some interesting, some viscerally challenging to Katie (the slaughtered cow hanging by its feet--fortunately for Erin and I we missed that sight!), and some difficult to experience (the slums of downtown Lima). The 3 of us volunteers really noticed and physically experienced the pollution, which visibly worsened the closer we got to Huaycan. The social worker from the PPA came with us as did 2 girls from PPA.
It is difficult to describe the shantytowns we visited, its best experienced. I suspect that no one visits a shantytown without being deeply affected by the sights, sound, and smells. For me I saw extreme poverty, shacks supported by pieces of metal and wood, homes made of cinderblock. Dirt roads and paved roads. Houses with electricity, houses without. Children playing in the streets, children watching us as we passed by. Being sensitive to the plight of animals, I saw many many dogs, scavenging for food and scratching flea bitten bodies. I also saw a puppy carried by a smiling, laughing child and a puppy curled up in a basket of laundry. And as we have come to know, there will always be a few dogs dressed in shirts and sweaters!
The experience is, at least for now a bit of a paradox. Through some eyes, the shantytowns represent land relegated as undesirable with sandy soil, a distance from worst employment, and void of services. Seen through other eyes, a shanty town represented the opportunity to own land, to construct one's home.
Through one set of eyes, one sees despair, through another set of eyes I see a phenomenal resourcefulness and resiliency of people who live int he shantytowns. Through one set of eyes, I see children who used to live at PPA because a healthy life could not be sustained for them in the shantytown. Through another lens, I saw the tears in the eyes of a 12-year-old girl who hugged her mom hello and goodbye in the span of 10 minutes and perhaps might of wished that she could have stayed.
The experience will forever be etched in my memory. But along with the memory of extreme poverty and hardship of day-to-day life, will co-exist the memory of 3 proud women at the soup kitchen, who warmly greeted us,thanked us for coming, and though Mili conveyed the importance of us visiting their community. A day of contrasts, a day of understanding, a glimpse into the lives of some of the children and parents at PPA. A day like no other.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Working with Emily was great.  She is so sweet. She really didn't like physical therapy--immediately crying as soon as the doctor tried to hold her. She kept reaching for me. She likes the balls--she laid in them and kept handing them to me one by one. She cried as hard as she could when doing each task, but then took a nap while I waited for Nancy.

With the siblings we made jewelry. Candy was done in a few minutes. Diana pouted at first, but then got into it and was very creative in her execution. We took photos of the kids.  They loved it and kept taking our cameras to take some of us. Tutoring the high school girls was fun. We talked about music and who they liked. They actually seemed interested to learn--asking us how to spell things. We played Tic-Tack-Toe and HopScotch. Then we read to the little ones. They were so sweet.  We all noticed how they put their little slippers away and pulled down their own sheets. As soon as they laid down they closed their eyes. THey have been taught well--they know the routine.  All and all, a full, exhausting day.  It went well--except getting yelled at my the nun about the cold weather and my sandals.  A good day.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Day 2: Staff Meeting and Afternoon Projects

Thought of the Day: "Do something every day that scares you."--Eleanor Roosevelt

We arrived on campus and immediately saw how much property there actually is for the kids. The building are gorgeous and when first built is must have really been a palace and an amazement for the community to see.  I love how many kids run up to Molly and Mili shouting their names and giving them big hugs. You can really see how they've impacted their lives. Some of the kids immediately hugged us, which is a good sign that they know the volunteers are there for them and they trust them because they are with Mili and Molly.  I got to observe the communication between the staff and Mili.  Global Volunteers seems to be an extremely important part of PPA.  

The afternoon session was good.  I thought it was funny how many kids pretended to be siblings in order to come with us. Getting to and from our project was difficult. Lots of tagalongs and all trying to rifle through our games that we were carrying. It gave us some ideas on how to better organize for tomorrow--right up my alley. And I cant wait to work with Emily and Fabian. The language was a barrier. It really makes me want to learn as much as possible so that I can communicate better with the kids. Or I'll have to come back next year after I learn some more at home! We picked Mili's brain about the culture at dinner. That is something that I have a feeling we will do a lot.  We're a curious bunch. The small group continues to be great--we all get along well, so I think we are lucky to be just three.  

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day One: Orientation and City Tour

Thought of the Day: "Every day do something that will bring you closer to a better tomorrow."--Doug Firebaugh

Today was surprisingly exhausting.  Orientations was a day of learning--about PPA, Global Volunteers, the team, and the projects.  Our team is small, which I feel will be a great advantage.  Not only was getting to and ordering dinner easy, but also we all seem to have similar goals and expectations for this trip.  Erin and Robi have a teacher's perspective and their skills for lesson planning will be a huge advantage.  Mili and Molly have already been a great help with the language--and they don't seem to get annoyed when I ask what a simple word means.  It was interesting to see how priorities emerged once we heard about the projects.  I thought for sure I'd be doing arts and crafts with the 3-5 year olds, or holding babies, but instead we all chose to do something that will most benefit PPA--working with Toñito Silva, Franklin and Ricardo, Siblings, and English for girls.  I think its more important to be where Global and the PPA need us most that to use my arts and crafts skills with the kids.  And Sweet Dreams sounds like it will be a really meaningful experience.  The city tour was full of interesting architecture--some Tudor housing seemed oddly placed.  The wooden balconies were amazing craftsmanship--although wood from bottom to top is not the kind of balcony I can imagine sitting on to enjoy, I'd definitely prefer one with the glass windows!  There was an adorable little girl named Stephanie on our tour, and she and Robi become fast friends.  Robi's teacher skills shined through immediately, crouching down to get on her level and asking her questions that brought out funny little stories.  Erin also immediately asked her age.  I think I'll learn a lot about interacting with children from these two.  Stephanie's journal was great! Little drawings of things going on around.  Everyone I've met is so well traveled and enthusiastic about everywhere they've been.  I don't think meeting the goal of understanding the culture will be an issue, as it seems like we all appreciate other cultures and hold our experiences high.  The anticipation of meeting the staff and kids is on my mind.  It will be a good day!

Friday, June 20, 2008

This is faith in the good of humanity...

Our last day is quickly slipping away. In a few hours we begin to go our separate ways. We were strangers at the beginning and now we are friends. We ventured from the East Coast and the West Coast and states in between but managed to find ways to share common ground. Whether we were teachers or students before this we have all been both at times during the last two weeks. Some of us may have different religious beliefs, but we are all bonded by the same faith. This is a faith in the good of humanity—the good in each one of us and the good of those here that are deserving of our love. Our job the last few weeks has been to give our time, out resources, our love and every bit of ourselves we could muster. While exhausting at times this adventure will stay with us for years to come.
I had to say goodbye to Emily today. She has no family to call her own. It was excruciatingly painful. Ive written down all the things Emily will miss being an orphan but I had to scratch them all out. We cannot waste time planning our regrets for the future or anyone else’s. As difficult as it is, I want to look towards the light, which is all the people at this table. Those children had our words, out songs, our attention and our hearts for these two weeks but because of Edith, Mili, and Global Volunteers our spirit of hope and love remains with these children and will continue to be shared throughout the next group not only for the next two weeks but for years to come.
Emily may not have a mother to put a note in her lunch box on her first day of school or a father to walk her down the aisle, but she had someone who loves her help her tak her first steps. There will be many people to love Emily, you would be crazy not to. I will keep a place for her in my heart as well as a place for all the light we share and for those that have come to care for the children before us and those that will come after.
I wish I had more time to gather my thoughts and write. I wanted to be clever about so many things—the driving, the taxis, Peruvian Time, the running around and the runs, the flushing of toilet paper, the snot, the pee I discovered soaked through my sweatshirt, all of Edith’s “no problems” and “however’s.” Just as I am rushed to pack, I am leaving feeling like I could do so much more if I had the time. But since I have a plane to catch I will just say, please continue the faith you have in the good in ourselves and in others. Continue to share the spirit that brought us here and the spirit of the beautiful children of the PPA.
--Amy G.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer that permeates my soul...

Thought of the Day: “In the midst of winter, I found within myself an incredible summer”-Albert Camus

I have always loved this quote but I find it especially applicable to this volunteer experience here. It is literally winter here, the skies are grey, the air is grey, it is cold, damp and dreary, and yet every face from those around the breakfast table to Edith’s at the front of the bus to baby Daphne’s in her baby swing, to baby Talia’s as she jumps up and down in her crib—everyone exudes a warm sense of summer that permeates my soul. I am seen winter in the poverty of the shantytowns and the Taxi drivers and the vendors who beckon us to buy from their carbon copy stalls—BUT I see an invincible summer in the pride of the Peruvian people of their heritage and culture and in the eternal hope visible daily through the compassionate and patience of the staff and volunteers that endlessly love, shelter, and care for the children at the PPA. As the end of this experience winds draws near, I can honestly say, I have met my goals. I have improved my Spanish—or at least made an honest attempt to communicate; I have most definitely experienced the food and culture of Peru and without a doubt broadened my understanding of another part of the world. I am extremely grateful to Edith for her ceaseless energy and willingness to answer all of our questions and educate us in all aspects of Peruvian life. And I don’t need a camera to create the images in my mind of thirteen-year-old Viviana’s smile, her interest in my life and her desire to learn or Maria Alejandra’s face with reflected the purest of pride and joy when she realized that I was among those who visited her home. There are the snapshots that have created the invincible summer within me. It has been a great time and an amazing two weeks!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

They are all worth experiencing...

Last night we ate in Barranco, where many were surprised to find that yes, Peruvians can make a delicious steak. With the beautiful scenery of water, cliffs, and a lighted up cross, it almost seemed like a separate world. I have had many such experiences here in Peru. The PPA is a town in itself; a somewhat disorganized one at that. The Inka Market is a place full of hustle and bustle. The streets are a hectic, chaotic mess which can take time to navigate and can seem like a certain death sentence. They are all worth experiencing.

Now, the two weeks are winding down and our conversations are flecked with “Oh, I’m going to miss the kids!” and “What will happen with so-and-so?” In the scheme of things, two weeks doesn’t seem like a long time, but many of us have found out it is sufficient to make life-long memories. The kids at the PPA are unforgettable. Their cute smiles and infectious laughter will stay with me for many years to come. –Allison S.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Power of Now!

Thought of the Day: The Power of Now “Leave your analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. Bring yourself to the Now, the exact moment you are in, where we find our joy, embrace our true selves and discover that we are already complete and perfect.” --Lynn

It’s difficult to write about my genuine experience without sounding cheesy. There are many generic adjectives that one might use to describe an experience like this—wonderful, enriching, challenging, satisfying, fruitful, etc—And this experience was all of these and more, but its hard to describe exactly what it was that gives substance to all these words. Of course, I can simply say, ‘Well, basically I did some construction work in the morning and taught English in the afternoon” and then top it all off by saying it was wonderful, enriching, challenging, etc. But there are already hundreds of testimonies like this, which say the same thing in a thousand different ways, and perhaps this is not different. Though it may be true that I indeed did do a little work and taught English for a week and that it was rewarding in the aforementioned ways, I feel drawn to express myself in another direction.
As a volunteer, it may come off funny and selfish of me to way that I feel as if I am the one who benefited the most from my “services.” I found that I can go to a different part of the world and hold a conversation with a taxi driver and find a simple joy in it, I can tell jokes to kids and adults alike and laugh together with them, and I can feel as if my greatest cultural difference of company for one short week. Tomorrow I will go back home and continue my life and college education, and the children at Puericultorio will stay as they always have unless they’re too old to stay and they have to go on to something else. But the sliver of greatness in this experience is not something to speak of in an ‘after-the-matter’ tone, the children’s lives are not any better now that I am gone—it was better when I was there, that is what I feel now.
Upon reflection, I think I share similar feelings, which I imagine the children to feel upon enjoying the company of volunteers who are only here to stay temporarily. I have connected deeply with some of my fellow volunteers and feel a tinge of sadness as I think I will never see them again with all probability considered, however- such is how I look at this project and life in general. We are all here, now, but perhaps tomorrow that will not be so- and in my view that is no reason for despair or disconnection, but only another reason why it is important to make life good for yourself and those around you by just being there and sharing yourself as wisely as you can every single day…
I told you this would end up sounding cheesy.
Cheers, Brinton R.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Second great things, only small things with great love!

Thought of the Day: If you let your worries control you, you wont have any excitement and what’s life without any excitement? – Gina

Today marked the beginning of week two. We began the day fewer in number and tired from our weekend free time, but ended it with only good stories to tell.
I spent the morning with ten five-year-old “Uvas” who worked on their numbers and letters, finger-painted, and enjoyed a snack and a free range recess. I did my best to be helpful, mostly as a cleaner and nose-wiper. I enjoyed their energy and the feel of the classroom. Susan and I spent the afternoon with 13 first grade girls teaching animals and the sounds they make. The girls liked the activities that went along with the lesson, and kept us on our toes. The warm “Hasta Mañana” we heard when it was time to go felt good.
Today everything felt more familiar and comfortable, as if we belonged. Everyone we meet in encouraging and positive.
I have always liked the quote, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” I believe this experience applies. –Jane.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Give yourself a hug..

Thought of the Day:
Well another day went by. Worked with the toddlers and my mood cant help but charge when I see them running up to me. No matter how upset I am, they are able to lift my spirits without doing anything. This trip has so far gone smoothly. I haven’t been alb eto have so much joy, comfort, and hipe in my heart since my father took his own live in 2005. The life I have been leading seemed to have no substance, to me at least. I have met some beautiful people on this trip who I will always hold close to me heart. I just hope I’ve done as much good on this trip as it has done for me. –Faraz

Although this trip was shorter that I thought, I will still hold close the positive experiences that I have made as an individual and that we have all made together as a group. I have never worked with such kind and warm people who are so gibing to one another, and who really do care. We are all so fortunate to have been able to spend this time together, get to know one another and do some good for the world. Even though I personally could not fulfill all my goals, I would like to pass some of them on to you. My first goal was to play at least 5 songs a week, I played about 3 this week, but the real goal here is to bring music to the kids. All of you have a voice, and I believe that you could sing to at least one child, and Anna, maybe you could sing something at sweet dreams. My second goal is an easy one to fulfill because it is very similar to the ones that most of you have. This was to make these two weeks memorable for at least one kid, and I know that all of you are capable of that and I hope that although my time was short, a small impact was made. And as for my third goal, to buy my mom an alpaca sweater because dad shrunk hers in the wash, well Grandma is taking care of that this afternoon. Thanks, Grams. Thank you all for being one of the things on this trip that I will remember most, and for your support, kindness, great personalities and compassion. Give yourself a hug Team 58. – Sara N.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Peru: priority + happiness = family

Thought of the day: "Being adventurous with food can be fun and surprising but having Edith there to explain how to eat it can be a life saver! "– Allison T.

Sara is not feeling well and Lee is taking care of her, so I will help to write the journal. There is not June 12th without June 11th, right?

Today it is one of the most important days of this adventure in service because today we are going to visit one of the kids’ homes. We are going to Carapongo – Huachipa. We started getting ready (not drinking a lot of water and going to the bathroom). Before leaving I introduced Elizabeth and Maria Alejandra whose houses we will visit. Elizabeth has a big smile ad she is very excited to go to her house because it is one year that she hasn’t seen her mother and going home and Maria Alejandra who likes to sings and practices her English “what’s your name”, will see her grandmother who used to go to pick her up but she hasn’t gone for a long time because the social worker knows that she could be sick.

Little by little we saw how the view changes from tall building to unfinished houses, from new cars and big buses to “mototaxis”, from cute clean dogs to wild “guardian” dogs…this is part of our culture, lifestyle and everyday view and how most Peruvians live… it is real and close.

First we looked for Elizabeth’s home. We found a wooden house but nobody was there, so we started looking for a neighbor or someone who may know Elizabeth’s mother. When we thought that we could make a mistake in the address we asked a man who didn’t remember very well so he called her wife and she knew her. This woman told us that Elizabeth’s mother was not living there anymore and she had another baby. This was a surprise for us and especially for the social worker who realized that was the reason why she hasn’t gone to visit her other kids for a long time. The neighbor helped us to find Elizabeth’s mother who was living in the 2nd floor of a house renting one bedroom. She was sharing that room with her sister who has kids plus her 2 kids and baby. Volunteers, Maria Alejandra and I waited in the bus. At the end, Elizabeth decided to stay with her mother… after all kids do not care about where to sleep or what to eat they just want to be with their mom. There is nothing that can replace family and for these kids at PPA their families it is what make them feel special it is what belongs to them and they are proud about.

Second home: Maria’s home! She guided the van’s driver and we arrived just in few minutes. At the door there was a woman (Maria’s aunt) who was surprised to see Maria and she offered us to come in but there was an old woman, Maria’s great-grandmother, who was doing laundry but she also invited us to come in. It was time to breath deeply and face “real life”. It was first time that Maria saw her grandmother in bed with her arm and leg injured. She had an accident: a mototaxi hit her. She was in bed and Maria Alejandra just realized why she couldn’t go to PPA to pick her up. It was hard…

Then we visited a soup kitchen and a kindergarten where we met hardworking mothers and a sweet kindergarten teacher who had about 10 kids under control working in a card for father’s day. After saying goodbye to Maria’s grandmother, it was time go back to PPA and continue with our afternoon projects.

Visiting PPA kids’ homes is hard for me because I would like to show volunteers only all good things about my country and people but this visit is necessary to understand these kids better, why Global Volunteers helps PPA and why volunteers’ presence is so important… I’m proud of hardworking people that we meet in these visits… people who do not lose hope… people who do not give up…

Edith Rodriguez

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"I can show you the world"

Thought of the day: “I can show you the world”- Aladdin
Because these children see the world through us so we must represent it well. –Olivia

What a day! I and my labor team moved lots of wood, rock and trash. Then we proceeded to help lay part of a cement drive. How does my body feel? Sore. How does my mind think? Sad that the PPA maintenance men don’t have more modern equipment. Kelly said that in the US it would take two workers one hour to do what it took six today to do in 5. How does my heart feel? OK. I made a difference. In the labor team’s case, the ‘making a difference’ is measured objectively—woodpile gone, concrete drive seven feet longer and all our names are carved in it! Others on different projects have experienced frustration that they don’t feel like they are making a “difference making” working with the kids is so subjective. It is difficult to see into their minds and hearts a smile, a hug a light bulb going off expression is all we got. I suppose our expectations are high. Also our frustration level is high with our inability to communicate. But tomorrow will be a new day. I really like new days. – Julia

Monday, June 9, 2008

To smile, to laugh, to live..

Thought of the Day: “People always blame their attitude on the day. I’m having a bad day is bologna. What you’re really saying is: I’ve let other people get to my attitude. That is not only unjustifiable; it’s a sign of mental weakness. If you tell yourself you’re having a bad day, I promise you will have one and if you tell yourself you’re having a great day, I promise you will have one. The day is not bad unless you name it bad.”—Katie

As I reflect on the day I smile. I enjoyed it. Yes, it was filled with a lot of overwhelming hecticness, but that just comes with first day jitters. One thing that really surprised me was the welcome I got from the 3 year-olds when we went back for the afternoon projects. The minute they saw us their initial reaction was to hug every one of us. They wanted to connect, hold hands, and they easily returned our smiles.
Poem: To smile, to laugh, to live
Is to love and affirm,
To fly and soar,
to coast into the hearts of people who listen
to tell them that life is to live
that love is there
that nothing is a promise
but that beauty exists
and must be hunted for and found.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day One

Thought of the Day
- Isn’t it funny how much people miss out on things because a thought never occurs to them?
- Like what kind of thought, could you give me an example?
- No—they never occur to me.

I am stopping to reflect of the day and to share my thoughts on what lays ahead in the next week here in Lima with the Global Volunteers
Today is really two days condensed into one stream of experiences. Two flights and 16 hours to arrive in Lima. We were met at the airport and our Peru experience began with our early morning ride from the airport in the fog. A quick nap, a cup of coffee and time to met and become a part of the group. I am very impressed with how quickly everyone has begun the process of transforming personal goals into group goals and objectives four our trip in Lima and at the PPA. While the group is diverse in Geography, backgrounds, age, interest and more there is a very strong sense of purpose, commitment and a desire to serve learn and grow. I believe this energy and desire has gotten us all off to a very positive start. A motivated team with clear objectives will have a positive impact this week on both our group and personal activities. This morning on the start of day 3 I realize that it is important to unplug, both literally and figuratively to focus on this experience and to be more, as they used to say back in the day, “be here now!!” –John T.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Last Day

Journal-Judy Jonas
Going to P.P.A. for the last time
Lots of mixed emotions-glad to be going home, sad to be leaving the children
Onward we went and joined the children for an outdoor special anniversary mass
Brothers, Sisters, staff, children sang and blessed G-d for taking care of us all
All of us watched Cledaman, the Peruvian version of Superman, and had
Lots of fun watching…
Visions of old Peru with niños on a bicycle - covered wagon pulled by a caballo
on roller skates
Other children, dressed in colorful costumes performed folk dances representing
indigenous Quechuan areas
Later we saw the kids carrying their chairs, back to their areas, while others ate
their picnic lunches of pollo sandwiches
Until it was time to go to the huge field for the games
Needless to say, we went too; some watched but others (Jason and I) joined in the
older girls' volleyball game with an invisible, but definite net.
Together we saw one of the Hermanas play as well as the girls
Each of us said our goodbyes, some with tears, other with sweets and some with
Earlier doubts and fears set aside
Ready to face our realities at home
Sure that we have been changed and with the hope that the small link we have
formed, in the Global Volunteer chain at the P.P.A., will not be broken

Thought of the Day-Jason Parnes
"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and help them become what they are capable of being."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Journal-Anne Flaherty
Because of the field trip this morning, I found my routine disturbed. Rather than spending the morning pleading in broken Spanish with Ricardo and Franklin to do their school work, I cleaned windows and classrooms with some others. The afternoon was fairly typical-Eileen and I wiped toddlers' noses, mediated fights over toys, and fell even more in love with their smiles, laughs, and attempts at saying "Hola". After that, I, along with four other volunteers, taught English to the high schools girls. They are getting pretty good, if I do say so myself, and can nearly sing "Let it Be" just as well as the Beatles themselves.
However, this break in routine reminded me that my time at the P.P.A. is rapidly ending and while, as Laura put it, "moving dirt around" all morning, I found myself thinking about the past two weeks. To be honest, I think I will leave a little bit conflicted. On the one hand, the P.P.A. seems to be only a temporary shelter from the harsh realities these children face at home and in the world. On the other hand, the connections made between not only myself but the other volunteers and the children are undeniably important. So while it does not seem as if my work has dramatically affected the P.P.A., I think it is safe to say that my mere presence as a volunteer, and therefore as a source of renewed energy, love, and patience, has helped many children survive their immediate, daily struggles-such as a homework difficulties, runny noses, or trouble pronouncing a word. And I hope that kind of help is just as important.

Thought of the Day-Anne Flaherty
"Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test: Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to freedom for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away." - Ghandi

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Journal-Eileen Strong
Today was, for many of us, the last regularly scheduled day at the P.P.A. After finding out that I will not longer be in my kindergarten classroom for my last two mornings, I quickly found myself already missing my noisy, yet lovable, 5-year-olds. I will miss watching Carla draw a very obvious circular island with a palm tree on it, and the children mistaking it for a shoe. Still, funny things like that happen in a kindergarten classroom whether it is in Peru or the U.S., but I do not think that I have come across smiles that have touched me as deeply as they have at the P.P.A.
As in the toddlers' area, the reality of these children's scenarios hits me harder and harder every day. It seems unfair that while I consider the weeks, months, or years many children have until they will leave, the time is approaching for I myself to return home. While it is helpful to know that we are one group preceding a handful of others, I still want to stay and be the one to wipe Emily's nose or tell Enrique that his name is not, in fact, spelled L-U-I-S.
I suppose the most important thing that I will take with me is a compilation of smiles stored up in my brain. It is amazing how one can actually see a child start to feel important with just a friendly glance his or her way. With these last days, I am sure most of my time will be spent admiring the genuine and beautiful smiles that fill the P.P.A. Though we have come for a short time, a smile helps remind me that we are, in some small way, making a difference.

Thoughts of the Day-Eileen Strong
"A smile is a light in the window of the soul indicating that the heart is home"
"The reward of a thing well done is to have done it." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Journal-Laura Merriam
Another cool, cloudy winter day in Lima and day 10 of my global volunteers turn at the PPA. I am still feeling the after-affects of my bout with a bug over the weekend. I indulge my self-pity while walking slowly to my kindergarten class and wonder whether I can make it through another 3 hours of shrieking, uncontrolled, Spanish-speaking 5 year-olds. Then I walk into the classroom and they all cry "Laura!" and I think...ok... it's not easy, I don't understand enough and I feel helpless at times but I know I am making a difference. Being engaged in the world, at all levels with all types of people, is what makes a difference. Getting to know this wonderful, strange, welcoming country and its people as well as the interesting and dedicated people on my team makes a difference.
I like being able to say to the kids in the siblings program, "por la mañana", at the end of the day and see their faces light up --at least until Friday. It can be overwhelming to think about what will happen to Manuel, Lesly, Elizabeth, Astrid, Ysenia, Marie-Carmen and Alexandria or Johanna... but I have to keep in mind that we do touch their lives for the better and the next group of volunteers will do the same...and so on...and so on... an unbroken chain of connections that goes both ways and gives us all our reason for being.

Thought of the Day-Laura Merriam
[Quote from the Tao te Ching]
Act without doing;
Work without effort.
Think of the small as large
and the few as many.
Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
Accomplish the great task
by a series of small tasks.

The Master never reaches for the great;
Thus she achieves greatness
When she runs into difficulty,
She stops and gives herself to it.
She doesn't cling to her own comfort
thus problems are no problem for her. - Lao-tzu

Monday, June 2, 2008

Second Week

Journal-Francesca Heier
After spending the morning nursing myself, I met the others at our usual lunch spot. After lunch our afternoon consisted of our normal duties, but much less saturated with volunteers. Still the children showed extreme excitement to see us, as if in my case I was Santa bearing gifts. With the 3 year olds we played with the Frisbee, colored, and made play swords out of the markers. The children from the Siblings program joined in our fun. They had been enjoying some beautiful painting with Laura near by.
Sweet dreams was a little later, I did it for the first time. It was a great experience. I think the children really enjoy and appreciate the attention at the end of their day.
After Sweet dreams we met up with the rest of the group and headed to the wonderful "San Antonio". Laura described it exactly how I would have, very "chic". The smells were mouthwatering alone not to mention the gorgeous food on display. Our meals ended with great desserts and a pleasant walk back to the hostel.

Thought of the Day-Emily Hicks
"We cannot do great things in this life, we can only do small things with great love" - Mother Teresa

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Weekend in Cusco

Journal-Shannon Halligan
This weekend Emily and I spent our free time traveling around Cusco. We left Friday and came back early Sunday morning. Although it was a very short amount of time it was worth it. I feel so lucky to be able to travel around this beautiful country. It amazes me how different the landscape of Cusco and Aguas Calientes were from Lima. The sky was a magnificent shade of blue and the clouds seemed to halo the massive mountains. Being able to see the rich history of the Incan people was amazing. It's so much different experiencing it rather than reading it out of a book. However, even though the scenery was different from Lima, the people are exactly the same. Everyone we met was so friendly and happy. They are proud of their heritage and their culture. Our tour guide in Machu Picchu was born in Cusco and his first language is Quechua. Even though he leads around annoying tourists, he's proud to show them the beautiful "Lost Incan city" and brag about how much faster he can hike the Incan trail than the Americans.
One of our goals of the group was to learn about Peruvian culture and I think I've gotten an idea of what it means to be Peruvian from the people we've gotten to know and the couple of places we've been. Like I said before, this is nothing you can read about in a book. I'm glad to be back in Lima, though. Me and Emily found ourselves talking about P.P.A. and the group the whole trip!

Thoughts of the Day-Shannon Halligan
"Little by little one walks far"

"All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. However, a path without a heart is never enjoyable. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy. It does not make a warrior work at liking it; it makes for a joyful journey; as long as a man follows it, he is one with it." - Carlos Castaneda, famous Peruvian writer