Today I returned to Laura Alva, a special needs school and Cristo Rey, a private school. The majority of the people who volunteered today had no previous experience working with people who have disabilities. This made for a very interesting and enlightening experience. Amy De Silva shared that, “It was my favourite placement. I loved playing outside with the students. They were full of enthusiasm and excitement. Everyone was so kind, it was such a heartwarming experience!” Nicole Filipek said that her experience at “Laura Alva definitely put me out of my comfort zone but as the day went on I found myself discovering what made each child so amazing. Such a heartwarming and special experience.” It has been great to see the changes in participants throughout the week. I think the most poignant change has been in the case of Laura Alva. At the beginning of the week it was a huge struggle to get people to attend the Laura Alva placement but I am happy to report that everyone who attended it has loved it so much so that almost 50% of the participants want to do back tomorrow for their last day of placements. It is so great to see the change in the participants feelings toward Laura Alva and to see that so many people now have experience working with people who have disabilities.
In the afternoon we attended Cristo Rey and helped to work on the students English. Brian Holland stated “I especially loved it because how appreciative the students were. What they said on the way out and the look on their face of overall gratitude. It was nice feeling that we were really appreciated and wanted.”
This evening we had members from Pacifico De Villa, students from Cristo Rey and members of the SIA Peru team come to the retreat house for dinner and some great conversation. It turned out to be an emotional experience for some participants who felt overwhelmed with gratitude toward all the aforementioned people and about the transformational experience that is SIA Peru May 2013.
Tomorrow is our last day of placements so it will be a sad day but also joyous because the finishing touches will be put on the room that has been built as an addition at the daycare in Pacifico De Villa and there will be many Mother’s Day celebrations. Mother’s Day is a hugely celebrated in Peru so all the placements will be presenting something, in celebration. I think this has been an unforgettable experience for all participants and many have expressed sadness about having to leave the placements but Machu Picchu and Cuzco are just around the corner and they will offer entirely different but great experiences.