Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We Have Been Challenged, We Have Grown!

Wednesday, December 29th

Quote of the Day: "Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Our week at PPA has been one filled with great adventures and many moments which have pushed all of us out of our comfort zone. We have seen so much and done so much with the Children at PPA.

So off we went to our tasks of holding and playing with babies and doing crafts with the older kids. We found that we all worked seamlessly as a team today and managed to shuttle ourselves and any books, games or crafts to the various groups throughout the day. There were moments of sheer joy as the kids came running to us and requested games and crafts we had done with them the day before. There is something unique and special about being in a foreign country and being welcomed and recognized by children with expressions of joy in their face and their arms opened wide.

We have been challenged, we have grown as a result of this experience. In our hearts we can leave knowing that we brought a lot of love, care, compassion and joy into the lives of children who need so much and have so little.

Written by Julie Deignan

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Today's Mission: Paint, paint, paint!!

Thursday, December 23rd

Quote of the Day: ¨It´s not the number of years in your life that count, but the life in your years.¨ - Abe Lincoln

Myrian started our team meeting around 9am. Addy and Judith delivered a remarkable account in our team journal. Mary added a tender message from her friend in Daytona, FL, who is an orphan. We were given information about our Christmas celebration for the next day and our flight plan logistics for the airport. Unfortunately, we´ll miss our team members, Elizabeth, Cammy and Missy who leave Friday a.m. After breakfast our traveling troup left for CDLN.

The mission today was - paint, paint, paint! We did manage our mission well, consequently, the San Antonia and the San Martin pavillions are better - with colorful aspects. At the end of the day, we were in agreement that our highlight today was finishing our project.

We participated in the CDLN lunch routine. Most of the volunteers sat individually with the boys at their group tables. We talked and listened to the children. At Lane´s table, the question was asked, “Who is your hero?” From the group of four boys, one said his mother, two said Jesus and one said himself. Although the the English-Espanol was broken, the conversation remained interesting.

We experienced relating to the boys more in depth, but we as team members experienced relating with each other. For example, it was mentioned that Mary is an absolute astute Foreman or rather Forewoman. She is el jefe!

Connections become important. We learned that Millie, one of the CDLN office workers and previous GV staff, is going to Dallas, TX in order to study for her Masters in Social Work. We saw the children connect with some of our team members in a special way. They made pictures with messages thanking them for their service.

At 5pm we returned to our vehicles for the trek back to our "home away from home," the Torreblanca Hostal.

Written by Lane York

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day One of Our Journey

12.21.10 Journal Entry

Thought for the day: "To whom much is given, much is expected." - John F Kennedy

Day one of our journey began with a great sense of easy and comfort with our group of volunteers. We were eager to begin our work with the children. the trip to CDLN was an eye-opener for all of us as it was our first real look at the economic situation on the District where CDLN is located.

When we arrived on site, we received a tour of the campus and Brother Hugo distributed our assignments in each of the Pavilions. We then observed the Christmas celebration in the cafeteria and much to our surprise Barney was the center attraction for the children. The boys were so excited to see Barney that they pinned him to the wall while attempting to hug Barney in a way which resembled mauling him.

As we went to our individual assignments, we were all so excited to be of service to the children. At 5pm, feeling exhausted and in need of showers, we headed back to the hotel with a palpable sense of pride. Tomorrow several of us are likely to be very sore when we get out of bed.

Written by Melissa Walker

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Spring into Service" in Peru!!

“Spring into Service” with Global Volunteers to receive a special limited discount offer for our March and April teams!

Four or more volunteers who apply by January 31 for any of these 28 teams in 16 countries will receive a discount of $200 off our standard service program fee, per volunteer, for one-, two- or three-week international programs or $100 off our standard service program fee, per volunteer, for USA programs. No other discounts apply.

Please encourage others to volunteer in our five fundamental project areas: education (especially promotion of girls education), labor and community infrastructure, health care, child care, and food and nutrition.

Call us at 800-487-1074 for details and we'll assist you every step of the way. Our worldwide host communities can’t wait to welcome you!!

Check out this link for more details & service program dates:

Peru Service Program Dates, March & April Teams:
12-Mar-11 to 26-Mar-11
26-Mar-11 to 9-Apr-11
23-Apr-11 to 7-May-11

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vote for Global Volunteers this Weekend!

From November 15 - November 21 the Star Tribune newspaper is holding a contest entitled 'Full Page Project' amongst MN non-profits and the winner will receive a free full page ad in the paper!

Please vote for us this week ~ you can vote once per hour!

Here is the link where you can register and then vote for Global Volunteers (please copy and paste the link):

We would also encourage you to pass this link along to your family and friends, and post it on your personal Facebook page. Let us know if you have any questions, and remember voting goes until 5 p.m. Sunday!

Thank you for your support.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Team Journal - October 15th

Friday, October 15th

Thought for the day: "Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven." Henry Ward Beecher

Hooray! Just some clean-up and a little trim paint and our two-man team has repainted the study hall at Pavilion San Antonio. The second coat went on he baseboards after Jose helped with the paint formulation and technique.

In addition to getting brown paint on my green pants and pale skin, I worked with Flor again on her English lessons. We studied the time of day, locations and directions, distinguishing between 'at' and 'on'. One of the multiple choice answers was the location of the Mississippi River and Lake Superior. Being from Michigan, I could easily draw a map of Lake Superior, so I went ahead and filled in the continental U.S. with the Mississippi and the Rockies and the Appalachians. Then I sang out the rhyme that many of us learn in elementary school: M-I-S-S, I-S-S, I-P-P-I. Flor got the biggest kick out of that. And even after lunch she was still practicing it. Comparing our learning, we found that volunteers from Michigan, Maryland and even Idaho are taught the same way -- now we`re bringing it to Peru. Just wait until Flor hears the alphabet song!

Since I`m the first to leave Lima, and my flight is fairly early, I wouldn`t be able to have dinner with the group as usual for a Friday. So Myrian accommodated my schedule by having the 'farewell' dinner tonight. The Junius restaurant puts on a fabulous floor show of some traditional Peruvian dances and music. We had a front row table too. Truly and enjoyable evening, with or without pisco.

There were so many experiences, it`s hard to distill it down to one thing, one instance, or one feeling, but the closes I find is 'vibrant' -- whether it`s the colors of historical native dress, the facades of the homes, the lights and neon of the casinos and businesses, to the people selling even the smallest candies in the streets, and the energetic boys at CDLN, Lima is alive and vibrant.

Denise Hazelrigg

Monday, October 11, 2010

Team Journal - October 11th

Monday, 11 October

A fun Monday, we started the morning by finishing the painting on the doors in the kids building. Some we had worked on last week. Several pointed out to me that I had a sore head. What had happened was a lump of paint hit me there, and wiping just smudged it. Finishing the painting on the door, I became an English teacher with 2 of the ladies working there with the boys. I do not know their names, but I will be teaching them again on Tuesday. While I do, they each teach me new Spanish words too. I felt proud of myself at lunch, most of the guys wanted me to sit with them. After our lunch, they wanted me to take part in their dance class too, but I just watched. Some boys practiced their English with me, and I practiced my Spanish with them, we all learned new words.

I forgot to tell you that I taught the boys math too. It did take me a while until I saw what their math symbols meant, I`d never seen division signs that the boys used. All the way back in history to Greek development of geometry, and Issac Newton`s calculus. They`ll have to learn standard symbols used in physics and engineering... perhaps later.

Barry Serini

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Team Journal - October 5th

Tuesday, 5th October

Thought for the day: “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Maria Robinson

We knew ahead of time that today wouldn´t be normal, but who wants normal anyway? The boys wouldn´t be running around at CDLN until much later, so we had plenty of time to see the grounds, the pavilions, the animals, the fields of vegetables and to meet Brother Hugo and some of the tutors and other volunteers.

We snuck a taste of the panettone that the boys make in the bakery of CDLN and sell for special occasions. We had lunch early. We had a few tasks given to us by Jose and then Flor. With Jose, we helped feed the animals [now remember, I said that the boys were not yet on the grounds], I mean the guinea pigs and the chickens. We first went all the way around the vegetable fields to the back where they pack the produce, such as cabbage, broccoli and lettuce, then we loaded a wheelbarrow full of the discarded outer leaves of the cabbage and the woody stems of the broccoli and even grabbed some leaf lettuce. I swear these discards were better than some salad bars I´ve seen back home. Then Jose pushed the barrow back to San Martin [the pavilion, not the city] to the cages. Barry and I then spread out the leaves for the guinea pigs and then I chopped some lettuce for Barry to give to the chickens.

We followed that with getting some windows ready to paint at San Antonio for Ms. Flor. She wants the pavilion like new in time for the October 24 anniversary of CDLN, so she has a paint scheme implemented throughout, the windows and doors remain black, but the study area will be lighter with beige and brown and the inner columns richer with ochre, followed by the hallways painted ivory. Now we just have to find the time and the paint. We made it through sanding the inner and outer doors today, we´ll see what tomorrow will bring.

Back at the hotel, Barry and I decided to try out the suggestion made by Jeannette about Cafe San Antonio. Apparently, we need to try out the desserts (covered by Global) and the maricuya pisco sours (not covered by Global). It just goes to show that you can´t make everyone happy all of the time.

At dinner the only splurge was an ice cappucino for each of us. Cafe San Antonia ranks 4 stars for selection and inexpensive prices. The location, facade and uniformed waitstaff at first made us feel underdressed in our jeans and tshirts, but we quickly saw that it was populated by local friends, just like an ice cream parlor back home. In all, a pleasant experience.

Denise Hazelrigg

Monday, October 4, 2010

Team Journal - October 4th

Monday, October 4th

We each started our first full day in Lima, Peru, learning about what was expected of us. We had a nice cool day, many folks with jackets, but some of us were OK without. We had a meeting early, introducing ourselves, and reviewing our goals. Meals here were great, nice large servings that I would fix myself back in Annapolis, MD. Fortunetly for us, our tour bus was late, and we went throughout the city. Our host never stopped talking, repeating over and over in Espanol y Ingles tambien (my spell checker did not work on this Spanish)! I am in the process of reviewing my Spanish again, and await the kids tomorrow, Monday. We expect a variety of age groups of boys. I’m wondering how they`ll be. We shall find out.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Peru: Opportunites and Memories

By Betty

Life does hold unexpected opportunities for learning and service. Perry and I were invited by Global Volunteers (GV) to be on the first team of volunteers to teach conversational English at La Molina University in Lima, Peru. The university has programs in agriculture, engineering, and sciences. It is a very historic school on a very large campus.

We were assigned advanced students, which included students, professors and some English teachers. They were eager, knowledgeable, and fun to be with every day. On our first day, an opening ceremony was held at nine o’clock. We served pisco sours, the traditional Peruvian alcoholic drink, along with sweets. What a way to start the day. Perry thought pisco sours tasted like margaritas.

We were taken from our hotel by van to the university and brought home by the same van and driver. It was about 10 miles each way and took about 60 minutes or more each way, and we quickly determined it was best not to look, just pray. We tried to leave 30 minutes later than expected in the morning to avoid traffic and it still took 55 minutes to get to the university. Traffic with the cars and buses was always very “challenging.” The university was about 10 miles inland and much warmer than our hotel area along the coast. Our driver made endless turns to avoid traffic and we all agreed we would never find our way without him.

Lima has about 8 million people, traffic 24 hours a day, and there were many bus lines. The bus lines have different zones, different levels of quality with different sizes of buses and we were warned not to attempt to ride them as it was an “art.” Be aware that stop signs, pedestrians, and lanes were totally ignored by buses and most cars. Taxis were everywhere but have no meters so fares were negotiated in advance and were usually higher for tourists.

On Sundays it is a tradition for families and couples to go to the many beautiful parks. August is winter in Lima so it was somewhat overcast and in the 60's but a light jacket was workable. Most apartments and hotels have no heaters or air conditioners. Some retail buildings have three walls with the front wall open during the day and were closed a night by heavy roll down doors. Water comes from mountain rivers but we were admonished not to drink it. Our hotel was located about 2 blocks from the ocean with sidewalks along the ocean. Sidewalks have a green lane for bikes and runners. Courteous dog walkers were everywhere. Overall, the 42 municipalities of Lima all provided on-going street sweeping and park cleaning so we think Lima was impressively clean.

The city brags it never rains in Lima. A mist of fog seemed to be the norm. To us, it rained one night. The rain was really a very “heavy mist” and our students did not think it qualified as rain. Most drivers did not even turn on their wipers. The people most impacted had clothes drying on the roofs for days and had to wait even longer for any hope of clean dry clothes.

Our students had strong training in grammar! What they wanted to do was talk in English! We discussed many American idioms or "adverbial phrases" as the students called them. We also had fun lessons on the social skills of shaking hands and table manners. The students practiced not being "wet fish" or "muscle women" when shaking hands and the interest was very high. They told us about Peruvian food, cultural foods, family food traditions and more. It was so exciting for them to share with us and we learned so much. Now, let me make it clear, "cuy" was not on our menu plans-----it is guinea pig! The students have grammar rules, rules, and rules from their classes so we were very appreciated with our explanations, pronunciations, teaching supplies, humor and willingness to answer specific questions. We were truly blessed with their enthusiasm!

Part of the original plan for our team was to teach writing research abstracts. There was a moderate mutiny on our first day after the GV team tried to teach this topic to all three student levels. This proved to be two hours of agony for the basic and intermediate groups and for our team members. Very few students were interested so Perry and I made a proposal to the university to help students more by changing the curriculum. I agreed to teach those who still wanted the original class and the rest of the team cheered. The university agreed and the revised plan worked well. It was an opportunity for my students to know that writing in English is very different than writing in Spanish and computer translation programs do not produce needed results. One important lesson was we have many prepositions in English while Spanish has very few.

We conspired with our driver Joseuy to sooth a team member’s soul and get a special treat – a Starbucks’ coffee. The Starbucks’ parking lots were a very tight basement parking lot and a traditional parking lot with one lane used to both enter and exit. Parking in Lima was very difficult even for small cars and we had a van! The coffees and hot chocolates were wonderful. Yes, we did purchase a coffee for our driver. However, our driver did get a call from our team leader to find out why we were late. Our team leader and the department director were waiting for us as we sheepishly showed-up with Starbucks’ cups. Fun memories.

We found the students, professors and staff to be very friendly and appreciative of us being here to work with them. They were very proud of their heritage, country and school. Wow, there is a big lesson!

Our final lunch at La Molina University was beyond exceptional with fabulous fresh trout (cooked with slivered garlic and fresh oranges), potatoes, pisco sours, and the popular refreshing purple corn drink called chicha morada. Potatoes and rice are commonly served together at lunch, the big meal of the day. (There are over 3,500 varieties of potatoes in Peru.) The location of the lunch was just outside of the campus in an outdoor market that sells items from the university. The market sold beautiful plants, produce, meats (including cuy, pig’s feet and poultry with heads), dairy products and fresh flowers.

School was to start in the next two weeks. Many students were having mandatory computer instruction at the student center. Students must complete two computer classes before full admission. Students can get a “free college education” but only 5% of the applicants are admitted based on their test scores. Students pay 200 soles per semester at La Molina but pay about 300 soles per month at a private university. The government minimum wage is 200 soles month. (There are approximately 3 soles per US dollar.)

We made special plans to go to Cuidad de los Ninos where two GV team members worked. This program has been run by monks since 1955 for boys from profoundly high risk families. The boys range in age from 3 to 18. They are from families who are beyond needy and must sign special contracts. The boys live at the huge farm-like setting, fed 3 meals a day, clothed, and go to school. In the afternoons they must do homework and learn a trade such as auto repair, woodworking, barbering, or sewing machine operation. One morning Dunkin Donuts donated donuts for the boys. It was a very special day!

The two GV team members painted the inside of one dorm in two weeks, a huge undertaking for two women with limited equipment, and then they put on a fiesta for their boys. The chips, cookies and strawberries along with Congo-line dancing were very very special for these children.

The boys must go home every other weekend and the family must visit on the opposite weekend. Couples, often including their children, are hired to be "family parents" to the various age groups. A few of the older boys stay while they attend a trade school or college and they also teach vocational classes. It was depressing to see the plainness and conditions but then to think this was so much better in so many ways than what their families have to offer. The school has 350 students but turns away more than that number.

There was definitely a “police presence” in Lima. The majority of buildings, both business and residential, have security devices and guards; most guards wear protective vests and are armed. The other police include the national police, the city police, the district police, the traffic police, and the traffic directors who have special perches at major intersection (young women in tight motorcycle pants, white helmets and bright green gloves… “hot cops”). Police were often seen around construction sites to manage traffic and at shopping areas. Our students told us the police bought new patrol cars from China several years ago and the cars are very bad. The police motorcycles most commonly seen were Hondas that looked like our dirt bikes. It was life threatening not to remember that STOP signs are completely worthless, traffic signals are up for consideration, and the use of a horn is a mandate.

We went the orphanage which also has a Global Volunteer program and a team leader who is totally amazing. The orphanage was started 80 years ago by a dentist. It now has 600 kids. Most will stay until age 17 1/2 and then are “put out.” Most will not graduate from high school. The girls program is run by nuns and the boys program is run by brothers. The only time boys and girls see each other are on special holidays or possibly in school. The high school students do see each other. Siblings have limited contact. Most of the children are orphans but some are children of parents in prisons. A few judges mandate visits to the facility so fathers usually come with two "friends" to make a visit once a month. Often children are dropped off at the front gate as young as four days old, some with papers and others without papers. Some children are orphans as their parents were “guerrilla terrorists” in the north area. The buildings are old and many need serious work. The United Nations rents a section of this huge facility and the rent money is used for building repairs, an on-going battle in Peru. The children were nicely dressed, their living areas very clean, and ¨tutors¨ live with them. The team leader knows these children are missing loving parents and the lifelong impact of this fact. Children get up at 6 o’clock, eat breakfast, go to school until 1 o’clock, come back to each lunch, take showers in unheated water, do homework, play games, and go to bed at 7:30. The team leader told us how she called Proctor & Gamble and asked for expired shampoo. She got a 6 month supply so the company is on her list. Formerly, the children had no shampoo and still have no soap or toothpaste.

Perry and I have concluded we were treated with kindness and patience by every person we met during our trip, including the merchants we bartered with while shopping. The university assigned Claudia to help us. She worked as a clerk in the language department and had the most English skills. We quickly determined she was our special angel. Every day at 10 o’clock she would come to our work area with a daily menu. She would explain the Peruvian dishes and their ingredients. She was so kind, so caring and full of smiles. It seemed to us that office ladies have never worked or talked with Americans before our invasion. We hope we left a good impression. Most of them were in tears waving their good-byes after our two weeks together.

Totally amazing! Breathe taking. Massive. My description of Machu Picchu. Seeing it was a bonus trip we planned. It was worth the extra effort and cost.
We think the reason the Incas abandoned Machu Picchu was it was so much work and all of the stairs.....along with the tiny mean-spirited mosquitoes.

After almost 3 weeks of wonderful opportunities, adventures and experiences, we flew home. Yes, we have some great pictures but we also have very special memories of our service time in Peru.

Global Volunteers is a service organization in more than 20 countries. It offers programs in medical care, construction, nurturing, and conversational English. For more information on countries, programs and service dates see, … and no you do not have to speak a second language.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

And the painting continues!

Wednesday 15th Sept

Today I arrive to CDLN right on time. Myriam starts our daily meeting. Our painting windows project continues in Sonrisa fransciscana pavilion. Today I continue painting the 5th window. Jose is bringing us the ladder. It really helps to reach and paint the hightest part of the windows.

It is 1:30 p.m. and we start our lunch with prayer. We have fun with kids at my table. We enjoy each others company, a counting game in English begins. After lunch I go to help kids to dry off the dishes and we have fun. Myriam takes a photo of us standing by the sink.

After lunch I go to the pavilion to finish the painting. I use Jose´s ladder a lot. There's another 4 windows... the paint is making me a bit dizzy and it has a strong smell! It has been a long day and it is getting pretty hot today :)

At 5 p.m. my taxi punctually arrives and I go home. The taxi driver takes a different route, with less trafic. He drops me off at Larcomar. I walk home by foot enjoying the beautiful scenery.

I am then at the hotel and I am ready to eat my dinner at our restaurant. It is small but very cozy, and they make great steak skewers. I am tired and go to bed early today!

Written by Volunteer Karina

Friday, September 10, 2010

Adding a Little Sunshine to their Lives...

Friday 10th September

Today is my last day at CDLN even though Karina will be staying on until next week. It`s gone extremely fast, and I find myself feeling like I need a bit more time. Nevertheless, the day starts with a frantic search for cookies for the party later in the day.

Once we arrive, Hermano Pedro started to help Karina and me with the painting supplies, but got sidetracked telling us about Arequipa (where he is from) and invited us to his pavilion to watch a DVD he`d recently bought on the area. He was so generous to offer us crackers and to tell us about the condors, bullfighting and his hometown. He seemed very proud of where he was from. We did eventually get around to painting (another ordeal moving benches outside, trying to find supplies...) and soon thereafter, it was then time for lunch.

The kids had pasta today instead of rice, and it was funny to watch them trying to negotiate away the mushrooms in the pasta and then to twirl the noodles around and throw them at each other. Even though that wouldn`t go over well in most kitchens, it makes me glad to know that they can still be silly and playful at CDLN. They also got oranges today and were trading and stealing each other`s oranges. The fruit was definitely a treat for them. Everyday, there has been one little boy, Elias, who doesn`t eat his food and, since the kids are required to eat everything that they are given, he gets in big trouble with Hermana Juanita when he doesn`t finish. Today as we were cleaning up, he was trying to hide it under the table and wanted me to help him. They`re all just so funny in how they manage their lives here. In many ways, it`s not much different than if they were at home.

Since it was Friday, the kids were able to watch a movie after lunch. They were all glued to Avatar (which I haven`t even seen yet) and were excited for Karina, Myrian and I to sit with them and watch. Later in the afternoon, we served them the cookies and handed out balloons, both which seemed to be a big hit. I tried to show them the trick of rubbing the balloon against your hair to make it stick to the wall, but it wasn`t working so well. Maybe there`s not enough static electricity in Lima:)

At the end of the party, they presented me with a thank you card that they had made. It was very sweet and the boys were all very gracious in making a line to thank me for various things during the week. I really was moved not just on Friday, but throughout the week, by how sweet and affectionate they were.

In a perfect world, they would have people there everyday just to play and give them attention. I hope that the short time I was here has added a least a little sunshine to their lives. I know that it has mine.

Written by Volunteer Jill

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day Two in Lima!

Tuesday 7th September

Today is Tuesday, our 2nd in Peru. We have our hearty breakfast at our hotel and get ready to go to CDNL. Our taxi is very punctual, although the streets are filled with trafic, we arrive to CDNL on time at 9 a.m.

Upon our arrival Myriam comes to greet us with her warm and welcoming smile. We start our day with a Spanish lesson. It is really fun, we are learning slowly but surely. Then Jill and I have big project, painting the windows in St.Fransicana pavilion. Freddy is giving us a helping hand... he teaches us how to scrub rust from the windows. Then we clean them with the brush and paint them.

And now it is lunch time at 1:30 p.m. We are going to the cafeteria to set up the tables for the children. Once we put the dishes on the table we help to serve the food. Suddenly we realize that all children gathered around in the cafeteria at individual seat. Then ready for the prayer. We pray with gratitude.

Suddenly I notice that children are coming towards me saying “hello hermana Karina" and kissing me on the cheek... what a delightful moment for me... I am being accepted as their team member!

After we eat we help them to clean up the tables - they are so efficient in doing the chores, I am very impressed. Then we go to our pavilions. My children from St. Antonio pavilion go to play football, they reall love it. I hang around with them, saying "go go go" and I wish I could play footbal!

Then it is time to do the homework - the fun part. I say "who needs help with math?" and we start doing the homework. I am impressed with them. They are really very good at math, complex divisions and subtractions, although they need little it is nice to just be there and cuddle with them while they do their homework and they are really appreciative when they do it well.

It is 5 p.m. and our day almost comes to the end, we are so glad just to be there for them. Our taxi is waiting for us and we go back to our cozy Hotel Torreblanca.

Written by Volunteer Karina

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Summer of Service in Lima ~ Get Inspired!

Please enjoy some candid photos of our volunteers on summer service programs in Lima, Peru!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Realise that my time with this Peru program is about to come to an end, just when I am able to distinguish most of the boys by their personality (though still lousy at remembering names) and also beginning to get comfortable with a familiar routine at CDLN - work around the dormitory in the morning, set table for lunch with the boys and help with clean-up afterwards, then sort of goof around with the kids until being transferred back to hotel by 5pm. I feel like I still have so much to do with the kids, and so much work unfinished around the dormitory, 2-week does not seem like an ideal time frame for volunteering work...

Myrian suggested that I think about how my experience so far has been different from my initial expectation, but quite frankly I did not really have any expectation to speak of - being able to spend time with a local community is an opportunity, not a task, I see possibilities and potentials, not objectives or goals. Now I understand why I have been feeling a bit confounded from the beginning with all that talk about goals and strategies, I guess my outlook on life is more organic and my approach less organised than that...

We are here to give afterall, although we would inadvertently end up receiving so much more instead :-) Yes, the kids are so nice and warm and patient they would melt the heart of however cynical and jaded a city bum like me could be, and the whole family of the tutors at San Martin has made me feel so at home, this is real treasure I am receiving from them, when they open their doors to their home to me - for a wary traveler, an invitation to a home-made dinner is more valuable than the dinner itself. I feel grateful, from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Another day of painting, this time the shower room walls. José and Guillermina wanted to have the decoration done tomorrow, the designer in me silently screamed no way - whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well (Lord Chesterfield), you just don't get a set of graphics done in a couple hours and expect it to be great. Again, I had to resort to examine the meaning of being of service - does it mean totally submiting to the wills of others, suspending one's own judgement, discarding one's own standard, in order to fulfil the needs of others? I feel conflicted. The same way I feel conflicted about the religious element in the daily life at CDLN (no one has forced me to follow their ritual, I just feel uncomfortable not blending in, yet hypocritical if I even try), and how I should handle questions I find too personal from casual aquaintances - there is obviously a different concept of personal space in South America. Not that I have come to any enlightening answer yet, but questioning oneself of the status quo lays the foundation for change and, hopefully, growth, I'll just take it one day at a time.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday, 17 May 2010

First day of the program. A bit nervous knowing that my Spanish is insufficient for effective communication with the local people, wondering if I would be more of a hinderance than help to them. But when on entering the precinct of Chorrillos I saw two huge statues of couple in love and was reminded of the common aspiration of people no matter the language we speak, the age, the color, and all the superficial differences - a life with some love and dignity, I felt more at ease knowing that those are things I could hope to give.

After touring the complex of CDLN - which is huge and very well maintained - I was assigned to the house of San Martin, under the care of Hermano José and Hermana Guillermina, a very down-to-earth and pleasant couple, a comforting beginning indeed.

There didn't seem much I could do for them in the morning (when the boys were at school) except for helping with their chores. Just when I felt a bit listless cleaning the windows, I remembered my own reasoning when my little angels asked me why I thought it so important and spent so much time trying to maintain a clean home for them: because I love them and want to give them the pleasantest I could possibly give... An act of love need not be anything lofty and flamboyant, it's the intention that counts.

Meeting the kids was a bit overwhelming at first, mainly because I couldn't understand 95% of what they said :( But their enthusiasm, curiosity, warmth and generosity soon put me in greater ease. It's a pleasant change to hang around with kids who are without a hint of cynicism - surprising given that many of them are supposed to have come from some difficult background. I have developed a genuine affection for these kids, and I look forward to create with them some loving memeories for each other.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 18th, 2010

Thought for the day: Enjoy the moment, it's the start of a journey. To serve others is to grow.

The day started much as the others, except we were all missing Jessica, with her bubbly personality and bright smile. she left last night and we all hope she had an uneventful journey home. June and Sara decided not to walk and there were only four of us at breakfast, then off to CDLN.

After a short meeting we all went to our respective homes. Barbara finished painting "her" wall and Jane covered six more books. We are now "trusted"enough to work without supervision!

We know our jobs well! Jose left to run some errands and came back with a papaya for us to share. We had an early lunch and shared our food with Jose, who is now a "bachelor" as Guerimiela and Diana are in Arequipa for two weeks. We invited Sara and June over to share the papaya and the five of us had a pleasant meal outdoors. Then off for lunchroom duty. After cleanup Barbara and I managed to collect the broken bowls and cups which always leaked all over the tables. I showed them to Jose, who promised to throw them away!

After lunch Jane planted the final twelve plants in the garden with the help of Manuel. Barbara's I-pod continued to be a big hit, until it could no longer function. The boys had signed up for turns so some were disappointed. We finished the afternoon by playing Tic Tac Toe and Hangman with the boys. I discovered the boys were so skilled in Tic Tac Toe that I only won two games! Barbara had the difficult task of figuring out a Hangman in Spanish!

After a ride home with Nerit we said good night to each other as June went off to meet Carmen's uncle, another relative. Sara and Barbara had errands to run and planned to eat out. Jane had dinner at the hotel.And so our Peruvian adventure is drawing to a close, with only one more day at the homes. I expect we all have mixed feelings. A sense of sadness at leaving our new-found friends and colleagues and a sense of pride in what we have accomplished in our two short weeks.

Tomorrow we will say good-bye to "our" boys and the tutors. We wish them all well and will miss them and will remember our time in Peru with fondness.

- Jane

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 17th, 2010

QUOTE OF THE DAY:“You can get everything you want in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar

While the quote above is by a businessman writer of self help books, it also reminds me of our experiences the past 9 days and how they affect our need for purpose, or to be useful. This evening as we were all hovering about Jessica as she waited for her taxi like sad, wistful Mothers sending their first child off to school, I shared an old well known story.

It’s the one about a man who is walking along an ocean beach throwing stranded starfish back into the sea after a storm. Another man approached him and said “what are you doing? There are thousands of starfish washed up on this shore. How can you possibly think you are going to make a difference here?” The first man replied as he saved another Starfish, “It makes a difference to this one”.

Today our morning began with a visit to the school next door to CDLN which is run by the same Catholic Order. We were invited by the Teacher into an English class where only English is spoken. She wanted to give the children a chance to hear native speakers from the USA. Shyly they asked us a couple of questions after we introduced ourselves. Jane broke the ice telling them she was a teacher of 1st and 2nd graders since she then she did not have to look up at bigger children. They laughed at her joke and the rest of us introduced ourselves and named our professions. We all agreed this was where Jane should have been and she thought she would be working. As we left that classroom to tour the facility we were greeted excitedly by the boys from our families running up to us on the playground as recess began. Some offered to share their snacks. Many hugs and smiles later we left to go to our assigned Family homes.

However, if Jane had worked at the school who would have covered all those books so well and planted such a pretty garden for Hermana Guillemina and Hermano Jose today with a contribution from GV funds. She happily did get to do some one on one teaching this pm as she coached 2 boys, Manuel and Rodriquez through the Alphabet in English writing a word and using the drawing skills the Peruvian children are led to use so much more then their American counterparts. Many children have become quite accomplished at drawing and copying though.

Sara kindly came over to help Jane and Guillemina with the planting task after Sara and June finished washing down the book shelves at their home. June got a hug and smile from her Tutor Hermana Pedro, a breakthrough, after she very humbly confessed to taking the dish closet key with her yesterday. They did get to interact joyfully with the boys today playing Uno.

Barbara almost completed painting her wall but ran out of paint and time as it was the hour to set up for lunch. She and Hermana Guillemina and her daughter Diana exchanged addresses as they hurriedly left to visit their family in Arequipa right before lunch. Barbara talked with Hermana Jose about what age appropriate games he thinks would best suit the boys and the boys had chosen the same games. After the “chicos” finished washing their shirts, their chores and homework with the visiting High Schoolers from yet another school, Barbara had a huddle of boys around her learning to take turns solving the physics problem game on the iPhone.

Jessica folded laundry today at her home this her last day. That evening before she left for home she shared her insight for the day. When she is at work she would love it if someone would just answer the phone while she is doing piled up administrative tasks. So just folding the laundry may be helping relieve someone of an annoying task to free them to recharge or do something else. That was as important to them as someone answering the phone for her. It mattered to them. There is no question the boys like Jessica very much and will miss her warm smiles and hugs. Not one of us sets a table like she did and all that wholesome energy, intelligence and those great smiles and hugs will be remembered by us as well. She was very moved by the farewell at her home and was quite pensive and sad as expected it seemed, on the drive back to the Hostal.

Today seemed to be a time of poignant, but oddly heartwarming goodbyes with people for whom I have developed a genuine affection that seems to have been returned 2 fold. We discuss knowing that while we will miss the boys, each other, our hosts, our kind Hostal folks and our leader Myrian, we feel our hearts have been moved by this experience. These thoughts fused with our fatigue made for a bit more quiet ride today as Neerit drove us to our home away from home.

Travel Mercies to Jessica, you are sorely missed. For the rest of us we have 2 more days to throw a few more starfish back into the nourishing waters. Go Team Camaraderie!

- Barbara

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March 16th, 2010

Quote of the Day:"I laugh, I love, I hope, I try, I hurt, I need, I fear, I cry. And I know you do the same things too. so we're really not that different, me and you." Colin Raye

The day started early once again with Sara, Jessica and I going for a walk. The red VW car was not there for our landmark, but we made it back just the same. The walks have been great with sharing more about each other. We make our daily ride to CDLN where we start the day with reading from the journal and more Spanish lessons. Myrian has us actually trying to converse and not just repeat words. We all depart and head for our respective houses. When Sara and I get to San Buenoventura we find a note on the door telling us the tutors are not there but will be back at 11am. We then go visit Barbara and Jane to check on the progress of the painting of the curb and the covering of the books. Sara sweeps the curb then we start to pick up trash that is on the ground and go back to our house and do the same. Jose, a tutor, asks for our help in pulling weeds which is a big challenge for me since I don't know a plant from a weed, but I managed not to pull out too many plants.

We decide to check on our tutors, but still do not find that they have returned. We head to the office and meet the tutors who have just come back from a doctor's appointment. We go to the office and get a couple of card games, UNO and SkipBo which we bringback and play UNO with the 2 boys who are not in school. Interacting with play with them brings us much closer together, laughing, winning and losing. Back to the usual routine of setting up for lunch and cleanup afterwards. We then help the boys with schoolwork which consists mostly of covering books and drawing pictures for them.

The boys started flocking around, I wished we had more time for play. Barbara and Jane went on an excursion to a mall to purchase flowers for planting, which will get done tomorrow.

The day is over and back to the hostel with Juanita's husband, Nerrit, driving. When we arrive back I realize I still have the key to the dish cabinet at CDLN....boy am I in trouble!!! We meet Myrian who puts us into cabs to go for dinner. Jessica, Myrian and I got in the second cab and arrived at the restaurant first. This is the place we pass every day on our way home and wondered what it was...Brujas de Cachiche. We waited and waited for the other cab to come and started wondering what happened and thinking about all different scenarios. They finally arrived after the taxi driver asked for directions twice! We enjoyed a great meal and conversation but it was a little sad knowing it would be our last dinner together since Jessica is leaving at end of CDLN day tomorrow. She will be sorely missed - her bright smile and youthful energy. Safe trip home Jessica and we will meet again!

- June

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 15th, 2010

Quote of the day: Llancay, the Incan Principle of Work, or the Gift of Service says;

"Work is a blessing, an expression of interaction with care of the creation. It is not a punishment but an opportunity to give a hand to Mother Earth to bring abundance and prosperity to all. Whatever we do for Mother Earth repays her care for us, for all the blessings she has given to us.”

From “Andean Awakening” by Jorge Louis Delgado

Today Jessica joined Sara and June for their 6 AM walk along the Pacific Ocean which added a newness to the 1st day of second week. We enjoy our delightful ride to CDLN talking with Juanita and her daughter.

We head for our respective homes and the tasks that await us. Sara and Jane finish their ironing of the boy’s clothes left from Friday.

They then went to visit Barbara and Jane at San Martin’s. Barbara is continuing painting of the outside wall and is now on the yellow coat. Jane is covering the books and has a system now. They are invited by Hermana Jose to see a video of Arequipa in the southern most part of Peru where his family and his wife are from. It is very beautiful there, home to the Condor and Vicuna.

Meanwhile Barbara and Jane interacted with their boys after the boys finished their homework. They report the boys are seeking them out to help with English words for pictures they have to draw and name in English. One just wanted to learn a few English words on his own and how they were said and written.

The day ends with Juanita’s husband picking us up for the drive back to the Hostal. We learn with the help of the dictionario he is a busy and talented man. He is studying for a part in a play, is an editor and journalist as well as a taxi driver.

I return to continue my own reflection on and analysis of our collective concern last week. How is my washing windows, clothes and floors helping these precious children? How is this increasing my cultural awareness? As I reflected on the Incan principle of llancay from my current readings I begin to understand. Even a simple task done in the service of others is a blessing and creates a bond of mutuality between people. It is my hope that when these boys hear negative comments about Americans they will remember the laughing and kind American ladies who washed their floors and clothes and helped them with their homework. The only reward wished for was their bright smiles, nothing more was expected of the boys.

Likewise, as I remember those wide smiles I challenge myself to actively advocate for better US policies that address the social justice concerns and the real needs of developing countries. I continue to challenge myself to act for immigration policies that view immigrants as enhancing not diminishing our own multicultural heritage.

- Sara

Friday, March 12, 2010

March 12th, 2010

Quote of the day: Releasing my grip on what should be, opens my hands and my heart.

The day began early with June and Sara off for their usual morning walk. After breakfast we were off to CDLN where we had our morning meeting. We reviewed our team goals and were all in agreement that we were meeting them. Then, the reading of the daily journal, followed by a Spanish lesson with Myrian. We then headed off to our respective houses, Barbara and I to San Martin,wondering what today's tasks would be. I was warmly welcomed back by Jose and Guerimilla, who had been very concerned about me. I was given the now easy task of covering books. I have worked out a system and can now complete each book in less than 10 minutes. Yeah!! Barbara continued her job of painting the undercoat on the cement wall and finished it!! Yeah, again!

Barbara and I cleaned up and washed the dishes, then off to the lunchroom to set up for the boys' lunch. After eating the boys we retreated to a special dessert - donuts and cola - donated by Dunkin Donuts and Maltin. What a surprise - the boys were so excited! Cleanup and dishes followed, then off to San Martin, where we had another big surprise. Since it was Friday the boys were not required to do their homework, although could if they so chose. Barbara and I were able to play and interact with the boys - a first for us! I was sent over to the office to select some games and asked Alajandro to accompany me. We chose several, but Uno, cards and Tumbling Towers were the favorites. But the most popular was Barbara's cellphone which had several games. The boys nearly smothered her in their attempts to try the games. I played Uno and Towers with several boys, but never won at either. Some boys chose to do their homework. It was a wonderful afternoon - especially having a chance to spend time with the boys! Then back to the hotel, with Juanita's husband as the driver. Friday rush hour is more like Friday gridlock, but we finally made it home.

Dinner was a special treat. It was at a nearby local restaurant called Junius, which featured a buffet and a unique folklore show with a variety of dances and music. The costumes were amazing, the musicians and dancers extremely talented. It was a treat towatch them - especially their unbelievable dance steps, so intricate and almost exhausting to watch. Jessica was the hit at our table - several dancers singled her out and finally led her to the stage to join in dance. There also is a priceless picture of Sara when she was surprised by a "devil" dancer! The show ended with pictures of all of us with the dancers. Then we took taxis back to the hotel.

What a wonderful TGIF!! and finally to bed - June and I plan to sleep in, but Sara, Barbara and Jessica are off at 4:00 a.m. for Nazca and will spend the weekend visiting several sites and most especially a flight over the magical Nazca Lines. I do hope they manage to get some sleep on the way there! It will be a wonderful treat for them, just not the departure time!

- June

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 11th, 2010

Quote of the Day: Teamwork divides the effort and multiplies the effect.

The day started at 6am with Sara and I going for our daily walk. Bravo!!, first day we made it back without a wrong turn. After breakfast we head for CDLN. Somehow Juanita gets us there safely each day. Upon arriving we hold our morning meeting where the journal is read,telling us about the day before. We discuss how things are going in our homes. We then separate and go to our assigned houses. Sara and I go to San Buenoventura where Pedro assigns the task of dusting the artificial flowers. There were enough of them to last all morning. We take a break and then head for the dining hall. We help set the table, dish up the soup and pour the drinks.

Today I make sure the cabinet key is safely in my pocket so Doris doesn't worry that it has been lost, like yesterday. Each day we are assigned to sit at a different table at lunch so we are able to meet all the different boys. We usually are able to ask their names and a few other questions in Espanol. But oh, these old minds have difficulty remembering names, so it's repito, repito, repito. Then onto the kitchen duty of washing and drying dishes which was difficult today when the water stopped running. Christian and I had a finger water fight with water on the counter while we waited for water to start flowing again from the taps. Now back to the house where the boys start on their homework.After talking to a few boys and looking at the work they are doing, I go to Robert's table at his request. I thought I was to help cover more books which I learned the proper technique yesterday. But alas No! It is to draw a design in one of his notebooks. Whoa! I don't draw, but he insists. I copy the design from another notebook. Luckily it is on graph paper and is easy to count boxes. It keeps me busy for a while and he keeps ensuring me it is good. He then asks if I would do another and then if I would do all. I reply yes before I ask the question, cuantos? What a mistake, there are 6 more books to do, but I have tomorrow to finish them. He really conned me, the third book he gives me isn't graph paper, so now it is free hand drawing. Actually it does not look too bad and he is pleased. During this time the boys are trying out their English and asking questions. The dictionary is very helpful for both them and myself. We all use it and learn new words and phrases. We all seem to enjoy the interaction and I am eager to continue tomorrow.The day was quickly over and we head back to the hotel, dinner and much needed rest.

- June

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 3 March 9th, 2010

Quote for the day: "Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while or the light won't come in." Alan Alda, American Actor/Activist.

Today we started at CDLN with a brief recap of yesterday starting with Jessica's inspiring journal entry. Myrian asked for feedback from the first day which we all were eager to share. Planned interactions with the boys seem to vary by the house and the will of the tutors. We are proud we all find our way to our respective homes on our own today. We are eager to see what tasks may be assigned today. I wonder would I be of any use especially since I have such limited skills in speaking Spanish. What kind of contribution could I make? June and I are with the San Benivito Family house. When we enter we are told that today we will wash the windows. Happily I thought , well here is a task I can do. June and I quickly developed a system for completing this task. I would do the upper windows and she the lower due to our height difference and we could oppose each other to check for missed spots.

So I sought a metaphor for all this window washing that also speaks to broadening our world view through challenging our assumptions. When we speak of wanting to help we need to be reminded someone has to do the basic tasks that keep the organization working. I realized in a moment of clarity looking through clean windows. After we ate lunch together with our Families, we did go back and worked with the boys covering books and they did seem to enjoy having us there to try some words of English and quiz us on our words in Spanish. Exhausted but content with a good day's work behind us the team met for dinner. The waiter finally broke down and spoke to us in English that he enjoyed serving us since we were very nice people. Thus validated we headed off for a good night's sleep to prepare for another day.

- Sarah

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 2 March 8, 2010

Quote of the day: I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. –Edward Everett Hale

The alarm sounds and I awake with a smile. Each morning I awake with a smile for God has granted me another day. However, my smile today is for not only another day, but a day to help others. How lucky I am.

The team meets for breakfast and I'm excited to see the smiles on each one of us. We depart for CDLN, all excited curious, and interested in the new experience that lies before us. With no concrete expectations this van of women (on international day of the woman) travels to meet “our boys” for the first time. We have a warm greeting from the staff, including Brother Hugo.

Then our journey around the campus begins. I'm fascinated by each home and as I glance at my teammates it´s clear that so are they. “We travel from the little shoes to the big shoes” as Barbara pointed out. As we each approach “our home” it's fun to see us each light up, we become kids at heart while taking in our new surroundings. We quickly learn first hand how special CDLN is to these children and community.

After our tour we receive a quick Spanish lesson. During this lesson I realize these are the words that will bring us together. These are the words the boys will use, the tutors will use and I will use in order to bond. With no Spanish background this begins to make me a little nervous. Then I must quickly push my nerves aside as I now see the boys traveling back from school and we each walk to our homes.

Lunch is first on the list and I'm asked to help set up. I watch the boys and see the enthusiasm they have with the simple task of preparing for lunch. All of the boys and my teammates begins to enter the cafeteria and complete the same task. Then the boys stand waiting for the prayer to begin. The loud roar of the boys fills the room as they share in the blessing, then time to eat. Today´s menu includes soup, rice, beans and lettuce. The words “finish your meal, set a good example” enter my mind as I´m eating the last few bites. Later on I learn the other teammates are thinking the same thing. No barrier is broken during lunch as all the boys are distracted with the food and the company of each other. Alice makes me feel welcomed.

Then dishes is when the barriers begin to be broken. Smiles, laughs and tricks like splashing in the water begin to bring us together. This continues as recess follows our lunchtime. As I observe the boys I cannot help but smile and laugh as they are. Then little by little the boys run over, give me a hug and quickly run off to continue their game of soccer. The warmth I feel from the sunshine doesn´t compare to the new warmth I feel of the heart.

I realize…
I cannot speak to them, but I can give them a smile.
I cannot understand their questions, but I can give them a hug, and
I cannot help them with their studies but I can laugh with them as they all joke with each other.

Our evening ends with wonderful food and conversation as well as a reflection of our day and our excitement for tomorrow. A tomorrow where I will continue to learn it´s not about what I cannot do, it´s about what I can.

- Jessica

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day 1 March 7th, 2010

Quote of Day: Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our gooddeeds. Buddha

We start our first day in Peru as a team coming as individuals to fulfill our promise to be "servant-learners". Not quite a team yet we meet with Myrian Bellido our group leader. She is an engaging, well-educated and intelligent young woman with many skills. First she leads us in introducing ourselves. Our most seasoned Global Volunteer is Jane, a refined traveler from California. She has served 7-8 times before with Global Volunteers and wants to continue until her 80's. Ah wisdom of experience. June comes from a log cabin in the beautiful woods of Vermont. She has a busy schedule of volunteering in the VA hospital, for AIDS sufferers and other groups as well as her church. She was an IT manager and we plan to use her skills immediately. Already we are coast to coast. Next our youngest member Jessica who is from Minnesota but is now in Wisconsin and works as a Banquet/Restaurant Manager and Event Planner. She is wise beyond her years and we see her talents that night at dinner manifested in brief. Sara a Child Psychologist from Texas but Virginian for 40 years is also a volunteer servant in several organizations such as her church and working with abused women. Her infectious laugh lightens our gathering. Barbara is the fifth member, born in Baltimore,but widely traveled as a result of her Air Force Nurse experience and interests in retirement (semi). She is a Nurse Practitioner and has some experience in volunteering with abused women as well. She is the scribe today.

Our first task was to identify the characteristics of a team, then we learn about our host organization the "Ciudad (city) of de los Ninos", alive-in program for at risk boys 3 to 18 years of age. There are various homes made up of about 30 boys each and are divided by ages. We learn that we will be assisting the tutors who live there with the boys after they return from school for lunch and homework. We defined our team goals, thusly armed with that information and our expectations.

Team Goals:

1. To work cooperatively and supportively to meet the needs of our hosts as they request

2. To learn about and grow with each other in this process

3. To share and celebrate the cultural exchange

4. To enjoy the whole experience

After we have exhausted Myrian with questions especially about Espanol and pronunciations and meanings we break for lunch. Myrian has a wonderful suggestion - a walk along the cliffs beside the Pacific Ocean. Our destination is a lunch place overlooking a picturesque Peruvian beach and coast line. Lovely Lima at her best. Along the way we see life and people about in parks and busy highways.We have a tasty lunch and sample chica and Inca Cola, two popular drinks in Peru and get our first lesson in the unknown Peru gastronomy at Pollo Pardo's. We catch a cab back to the hotel and spend our afternoon either on a city tour or meeting Peruvian friends.

Sara and Barbara tour the Museum of Anthropology for 1 1/2 hours (a must see collection of well preserved pottery etc through long history of Peru from the Chavin to the Colonialtimes.)

June and Jessica enjoy hearing the history of Peru and seeing local sites of interest. Jane enjoys a cool ocean breeze as she reads her book on the Plaza in front of hotel by the fountain. Aah, life is good!

The group meets for dinner at the great Italian restaurant Donnatella where we manifest one of the team characteristics we identified -"Comraderie" - yes ladies I can spell it. Those who arrived at midnight the day before, are now as ready as the rest of us to retire from a long day of preparation, fun and anticipation. Thanks to Myrian (our sister) and Frank, our Hotel manager, who keeps a brotherly helpful eye on us, for this day - our beginning.

- Barbara

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Joy of Volunteering in Peru

Thank you so much for all the work that you do!

What an exciting adventure my husband, Tim, and I had as members of the 92nd Global Volunteers team to Lima, Peru! We worked at the orphanage - PPA (Puericultorio Perez Aranibar)! It is a life-changing experience to leave the comfort of one's home in SE Minnesota and travel to another continent and experience a life so different from our own. Yet, even with all the cultural differences and the poverty, the same wonderful human spirit shines through.

Working with a Global Volunteers' team is so unique because the volunteers come from around the States (and with this team - even Canada!) to volunteer together to wage peace. We first get to know one another through a series of questions about team work and goal setting so that when we begin our work, we know one another better.

The work in Lima at PPA is so worthwhile because at the orphanage the children need the love that the Global Volunteers bring and the staff appreciates the help. Each team builds on what the former teams have done and sets the stage for the next team coming in.

Being Global Volunteers we have our goals
As talents we release.
We hope our actions and our words
Will help us to wage peace.

What change did come for most of us
In culture and in weather!
Our team has had a lot of fun
Experiencing it together.

My quote today from Helen Keller
Fits all though short or tall:
"Life is an exciting adventure,
Or nothing at all."

Gratefully, Bonnie Rietz, Peru volunteer

Thursday, January 21, 2010

There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread

Coming into this as a volunteer in PPA, I did not know what to expect. I thought that maybe the kids would not have enough to eat or would not be well taken care of. I was suprised to find that all of the kids were fed well and all had their own bed and clean bathrooms. All the kids really need was love and attention. Everyday when I go see the kids, the instant I smile at one or give a child attention you can see their face light up. When you take the kids outside, they don't always want to play sometimes they just like being near you, having some human contact. Although the kids are taken care of physically, emotionally they ache for any type of human contact. We will never see a permanent change in these kids, because they need love forever, however we can see when we are with them how happy they are and appreciate that maybe for just one day we are making their lives better. Even though we are leaving today we can hope that the kids will continue to get the love and attention that they deserve from other volunteers and hopefully one day their family.

Lexi Strictland

Monday, January 18, 2010

Carpe diem (Seize the day)

Once we were ten
But today we are three
Team 90 on Monday
Jack, Gary and me.

Each morning we meet
And after we eat
We're off to our destination
Without procrastination.

The van knows the way
We go every day
Except for one day
We went the wrong way.

We circled about
That first roundabout
And found PPA's gate
Before we were late.

We gather to see
What assignments will be
Then off where the children await
Hurry, hurry, we can't be late.

The gardens need flowers
And also some showers
The rocks will give way
With some muscle this day.

Slides ready for sliding
Swings waiting for swinging
How the children run
To have fun, fun, fun.

But sometimes a tear
Or a scream we may hear
But soon they are gone
With a hug or a song.

Too soon it's time for the bus
CIAO, CIAO, goodbye from us.
Back to our lodging to eat some more
And make our plans for the next day's chore.

Thought for the day: Carpe diem (Seize the day)
Sally Keller