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.