Thursday, May 10, 2012

Team Aloha carries on, less our Compadre Jim, who returned to his real world on Sunday.  He is missed.  Still, Carol, Jared, and I continue the good works under Edith’s expert tutelage, serving the special children of PPA.  Jared and Carol spend their mornings sanding and painting doors, to address the challenges of aging buildings, and in their afternoons, bring together sibling groups to strengthen tenuous family ties. I have been spending mornings in a classroom as a Kindergarten teacher’s aide, and in the afternoon provide recreational relief to shut-in children in the infirmary.  As the end of second week approaches, we seem like familia to PPA staff, who greet us daily as we come and go.
Peru has provided the perfect experience through placement at PPA, and the perfect mentor, Edith Rodriguez Perciado, for us to achieve our Team Aloha goals:
·         To share and show aloha

·         To experience Peruvian culture

·         To learn to speak a bit of Spanish

·         And of course, to wage peace and promote justice as Global Volunteers.

Discovering the wonders of Lima and the warmth of its people has been a bonus for us
We will carry our special memories of an incomparable experience as we return to our home on the weekend. Among my favorites are:
Visions of the luminous big brown eyes of our children.
 Forehead kisses as cure-alls for sad faces.
 Knowing you can reverse a mini meltdown with hugs
   Balloon volleyball as a perfect antidote for shut-ins.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed in the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So, throw of the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Morning meeting at PPA sets the tone for the day before we take turns at the loo and move automatically to our workstations, be it kindergarten or an 82-yearl-old building in desperate need of a face lift. Senior Napoliano’s welcome greeting is by now a fixture as are the worn and paint spotted gloves, scrapers, gloppy paint brushes and diminishing cans of white enamel. By this, the 4th day of work, progress is evident in the white gleam of the doors and window panes as Global Volunteers pack up our equipment at the end of another morning to turn our attention to the afternoon with Siblings.
Less than five hours after a hearty breakfast we find ourselves trudging hungrily toward D’Gallia for purple corn juice and another substantial meal. Fully satiated and reluctantly suppressing visions of an afternoon siesta, we select the items that we know by now will please (or at least entertain) the various members of our Sibling Families. Meanwhile, Joanne, having spent the morning volunteering at kindergarten, heads off to the infirmary to bring joy to the shut-ins with the help of Snoopy.
Sibling time has become more laid back and casual. We no longer scramble to find the perfect toy or the correct building and room to pick up or drop off a kid. The Sibling’s routines are better understood as are their individual habits and personalities. Hopefully, thanks to Edith’s daily lessons and tips, language is becoming less of a barrier to communication. Sibling interaction seems to be more relaxed and natural so that they can play in the same area, each doing his own thing, but being aware of each other’s presence. There are fewer demands and less competition for the Volunteer’s attention with the constant “mira, mira, mira” -- “Look at me, look at me…”
All in all, it seems like the Volunteer and Siblings have become their own little temporary family.