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