Friday, February 10, 2012

Last day at PPA. Edith said that this week would go fast. It was a blur.

It´s hard to describe what it´s like to have 20 three-year-olds greet you – like puppies every morning. Such smiles and happiness. Not that it lasts. There are fights and tears, consoling qand anger, sometimes all at once.It is amazing how much personal growth we saw in the children in two weeks and experienced ourselves. Maryanne and Susan hokey-pokeyed their way through the morning, even for a film crew shooting a documentary.Rose and Marie washed a lion share of dishes and soothed the little ones. Pat and Mandy used sports and crafts to wear out the 4,5 and 6-year-olds. The results of the sibling project seemed mixed. One family group was older and reconfirmed their bonds, one group was guided by the care of the big sister who may hold that family together. The younger group may appreciate they have one another – the little sister at 3 seems independent and strong. May she offer leadership to her brothers. The goodbyes were emotional and heartfelt. Appreciation oozed from both sides.

By bus we went to Donatello´s for another exceptional meal. At 6:30 we had a final dinner with Edith whom we cannot thank enough.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"The only way you can truly get more out of life for yourself is to give part of yourself away."

So it was business as usual. Pat had the idea that we should find the less rowdy San Vincente boys. We colored made paper fortune tales, sang songs, and played musical chairs. I knew our morning was going too smoothly because all of a sudden all the boys were together and it was mass pandimonium with skateboards, scooters and other forms of hazardous horseplay. As we were getting ready for lunch we found out that Rose´s choco crispy bars were a success and that the 3 yr. olds will be eating them on Feb. 10th.

As for the afternoon, Marie and I sang a whole lot of songs and we were amazed that we didn´t have to pick up a hundred balls but rather the kids played in one corner. After dinner at Le Baguette we returned to PPA for sweet dreams. I attempted to read Aloha and Bunny Rabbits Picnic, we looked at pictures and marvelled at the pretty colors. When Edith said five minutes left, I did my best to put Andrea to bed and I sang him Silent Night and for Anderson, well, lets just say I sang him a song that my Mother sang to me, Good night and sweet dreams.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ït isn´t what you have in your pocket that makes you thankful, but what you have in your heart¨

Today was anything but typical. We were joined by Rufina and Julio on a quest to locate Julio´s mother in Shantytown. Along the way we stopped at a public hospital to see about birth records for Julio and another boy. After many tries Julio was able to find his mother and they had a reunion of sorts for a few minutes. As we were driving back to PPA, we were pulled over by a police officer. Mr. officer thought we were a small public bus in the wrong lane. Amazingly, drivers in Lima do not signal their turns, and change lanes at will and honk incessantly, yet being in the wrong lane gets you pulled over. Fascinating.

When we arrived back at PPA, it really was lights, camera, action. Rose and Susan handed out candy while Pat, Marie, Edith and myself (Mandy) stuffed popcorn into the bags. After we got the popcorn to the auditorium, I went to San Rafaelfor a few minutes before heading back to the auditorium . We had so much popcorn and jello left over that Marie, Edith,Maryanne,Pat and I ran around PPA distributing it. After operation distribution was complete I literally ran back to the auditorium to help Rose and Susan cleanup. Rose was just finishing picking up the trash on the floor with her hands, What an amazing mom and what an awesome example for hard work. After this we headed back to the hotel where Maryanne and I got a ready for a much needed massage. I can honestly say I have had many massages in my life but none where I heard people oohing, ahhing, moaning,clapping and turning on the light. Like I said, this day was anything but typical.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Getting to Know Peru

Today Edith briefed us about recent politics and economics, especially during the ¨lost decade of the 1980´s. After that turbulence it seems like Peru is more stable in a better place today. At least from what we have seen so far in Miraflores and center city.Assignments proceeded on the regular schedule. Many of us have noticed how safety standards are lower than at home. We see children playing with plastic puzzle tags, drinking water meant for the garden hoses, and carrying their own play equipment (see saws). Yet they seem strong and hardy. May they continue to be well. At lunch we went with Edith on a bus to shop at the local market that brimmed with meats, potatoes, guinea pigs, veggies, housewares, clothes and personal care items. We bought some toys for the childrenand had a lunch outside then took the bus back to PPA.For dinner we went to an upscdale, totally full Chiffa for delicious Chinese food. Again, we see signs of prosperity in the neighborhoods we have visited, including maids walking tiny well groomed dogs.

Saying from a fortune cookie "you will have the opportunity to be recognized for your good actions."That joy has been coming to us every day as we see our children´s enthusiasm and energy.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Getting to Know the PPA Children

The morning alarm. Where am...oh, it is Peru and we are working today. It is time to reconnect with our children. This Monday we felt more acclimated to PPA and woke ready to re engage with the little people we have come to know. The spitfire, the bruiser, the dancer, the cuddler, the climber, et al.

We witness how resilient most of them are, how often they fall and get up, have toys snatched and find others, and generally show patience as they line up for snacks, had washing and black bib shirts. They glide easily from the communal toys to their semmingly identical back packs full of personal toys tht each owner can identify a mile away and claim it with precision.The children seem more comfortable with us too, especially when they cozy up stick like velcro, and explore our anatomy as well as our watches, earrings, lipsticks, etc. Each child seems well cared for with freshly washed and ironed clothes, sweet smelling hair and white teeth. They are intent on keeping their shoes on at all times (clearly according to the rules) and glide, jump, and run in their flip flops with grace most of the time.After our days work, several of our group went for massages from blind workers. What a good idea. Reviews were unanimous two thumbs up and 10 toes up. We all selpt well that night.

Friday, February 3, 2012

"Pretty much all the honest truth telling in the world is done by children." Oliver Wendell Holmes

Today was walking day. In the morning, Marie and Rose had their first opportunity to take a few of the little ones outside. Typically, Pat does this in the afternoon. Lunch was early for the children because it was family visitation day. Maryanne and Rose spent the afternoon with their families while Pat, Susan, Marie, and Mandy walked the children to and from the family meeting area. It was sad for children who expected parents that didn´t show and heart-wrenching to see those who cried when returned to their areas.

In the evening, we donned our fancy clothing and went to Junius for a buffet and a folklore show with terrific music and incredible dancing. The crowning hit of the evening was watching Mandy reluctantly take to the stage to become the bride of diablos. Her hesitant participation and wildly comical facial expressions sent five ladies into fits of laughter and was an absolutely hilarious ending to another day filled with both work and play. Thanks again to our wonderful leader, Edith.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"We can´t do great things in this life – we can only do small things with great love." Mother Theresa

It seems that we are all falling into our routines at PPA learning to pace ourselves, connecting names with faces and falling in love with the enthusiasm of these precious little ones. In the Nino Jesus, Marie and Rose had the experience of seeing a few children respond with E I E I O after singing the lines of Old MacDonald. Edith treated us to a delightful evening. We went to San Antonio and oohed and aahed over the pastries and sandwiches. We returned to our beds filled with quiches, spinach pies, sandwiches, chocolate brioches, and cakes, and ice cream. Gracias, Edith.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Those who say it can´t be done are interrupted by those doing it.

Ups and downs are shared as the interactions continue. We are getting to know faces, names and expectations. We realize too that our job isn´t to alter things but to facilitate procedures in place. None the less we fantasize about darkening the skin and eyes on the murals, dividing large numbers into groups and being able to communicate in Spanish a great deal more. After PPA today Edith took us to the Inca market. Edith showed the Indian portion of this immense place. Marie bought an alpaca sweater, Sue to a lovely carved bird, beautiful postcards and she and Pat got table runners – hand woven. Pat got her daughter some head bands and a hat for herself. There are lovely, lovely items.