No me olvides – “Don’t forget me”…

It has taken me almost a week, but I think I am now able put it into words.

No matter the promises we made, they could never be sure that we ever would return.

When we were greeted by children they would cling on to us, almost in desperate. As if by holding us they could keep us forever, never leaving them alone. The goodbye was much harder. The image of the child from Ampliacion Pacifico, who whispered in my ear  “No me olvides” (Don’t forget me) as we said our goodbyes in 2010. It is not easy saying

goodby to someone who you may never see again. Many times we have left communities in tears, both the Canadians and the local communities. Communities left in the balance and the unknown. I have always felt that although we gave everything we could during our two weeks, it was not enough. I never felt comfortable leaving the communities in this feeling of the unknown.

I am no closer to resolving this concern, but I feel that we are moving towards something. I think with every visit we are getting closer to helping the community realise that we will

continue to support them. The goodbyes are shorter the hugs are becoming more relaxed.

Follow me in my next few blogs as I try to express and grapple with what I have been feeling.

There is always a lull that follows an SIA trip. As is the case with many intense experiences once they are run their course it takes time to regain your feet.

However, this time it was different. After an emotional goodbye I was prepared for the upcoming lull.

The remaining SIA team left the airport in silence. Nat, Kathryn, Calyn and I, all deep in thought and all visibly missing our friends. Everything seemed to indicate that we would experience an anticlimax.

Feeling that we needed to continue the experience, we decided to visit the community. On the way to the community we stopped in for a visit to Virgen del Carmen, the orphanage where the SIA May participants laid a floor. The orphanage is also the site of Calyn Pettit and Jen Bolus’ building leaders program, Project Karma (August 15 – August 19). Follow

Calyn Pettit and Jen Bolus at http://projectkarma.wordpress.com.


We were met at the orphanage by shouts of “visitantes”. The kids were excited to receive visitors at their orphanage. Within a few minutes of hearing about Project Karma the kids could hardly contain themselves. Kids screamed joyfully, English colours rang out as

Kathryn and Nat led them through an impromptu English class. Calyn and I arranged the details for the upcoming Karma project. Having arranged the schedule for the upcoming week we had to say goodbye. Just as we were about to head out the door, one child said, “somos libres”. Immediately I was reminded of the first few sentences of the Peruvian national anthem, having recently learned it. I took this as my cue and I began to sing. It was not long before the students had joined in. Hands on their chests, heads facing forward they kids belted out the anthem. Feeling the patriotism of Peru, with the children hanging on to us, we bid our farewells. The kids grasps weakened as we promised to return. Now four months later and after a number of visits the is no longer a feeling of the unknown. We have their trust.

It is becoming less and less likely that we will ever forget.

The kids know that we will return and perhaps with this at the back of their mind they can loosen their grip; their friends will soon be back to visit.

L. Shuttleworth

(please read the upcoming post)

Calyn (Project Karma) with children from Virgen del Carmen, smile before saying goodbye. They feel at ease. They know we will return.


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