I thought it would be a breeze to come to Peru for two months and do some volunteer work, leave, and jump back into my “real life”. What is real? Nobody really knows. The highs and lows of emotions that I’ve felt while in Peru definitely felt REAL. The friendships I made definitely felt REAL. Local transit definitely felt Real. The food has been amazingly “unreal”. But most of all, waking up every morning and seizing the day definitely was the most real I have ever felt.
As I write this blog from bus number 54, going to the community, the realization of my two months ending very soon is coming to mind.
The last group just left Peru ending their trip in the beautiful Machu Picchu mountains. I am trying to think of a time when they complained, had troubles, or showed the slightest sign of weakness. Honestly, I really cannot. Kiera was lifting 50 pound cement bags back and forth like it was fun. Amber was chizzling away the earth with a smile on her face. Sylvia was dealing with a frustrated three year old with ease at the day care. Wesley was in the hospital after becoming ill, and believe it or not, with a positive attitude towards the experience he had in Peru. People like that inspire me because they do not just think of the moment, they think outside of it. It’s amazing! Sam and Natalee brought together an amazing group of fantastic individuals who just wanted to “be there”. Just BE. Be one with the kids, one with the community and one with each other.
I hope to reconnect with the participants and get an insight on their experience in Cusco.
Getting dirty is expected when you step into Pacifico. Today it more than usual because the group and I worked on the construction for the new room at Pronoie. A lot of cement was mixed, things were hammered away, wood was broken, and overall, a lot of demolition. The construction team was mostly girl participants, and the Peruvians were happy to see that. As we sat with the local community women after dinner today, they appreciated the girl’s hard work and they also mentioned that they don’t see many women working away with large hammers. A lot of things were molded together today, and I am not just talking about the pillars we added for the wall foundation. Today, the group got to hear the stories from local women who have been living in Pacifico for many years. I saw as their stories inspired participants, and many questions and answers were also thrown around. One of the questions that was really eye opening was very simple. “Is the biggest concern in Pacifico right now, water?” All of the community members shook their head at once saying yes. Water is something we take for granted in Canada and don’t think about twice because its so easy to access.
I think this gathering was really special and important for the participants because they got to hear about the Pacifico that they never experienced.
Things are so much better when they are colorful. I doubt any of us stop to appreciate the color of something in our busy lives. Today, as I watched the children sit on the ground with a plate full of different paint colors, I saw their creativity shine through. They used their fingers, and went crazy on a big piece of paper. All these bright colors, even if they weren’t creating any single image, still made my heart so happy. Colors fill our lives with joy and happiness.When I was at the day care today, I noticed how much, colors play a role in a child’s life. The little ones rolled around play dough that was bright red, and did puzzles that were full of colorful images. When I look out into Pacifico I see dirt roads and no plants, no colorful fences or cars. But I do see the effort people have put into their own little homes, adding colorful walls and roofs. A little bit of paint can brighten up your day, which might slightly explain the smiles on these people. (It might be 2% of the reason, but it might be a reason).
Color shows me hope, color shows me happiness, and color shows me pride.
As I sat with Ann (Larry Shuttleworth’s lovely mother), I asked her what she saw today, and how her day was. She managed to sum up SIA and it’s team into some simple words. “I see initiative, I see ideas, I see genuineness and I see planning.” She was shocked by the way all our participants are so excited day by day to put in their thoughts and ideas into developing new ideas for any project that they work for.
Whenever I have overwhelming experiences, and feel stressed out, I simply clean. Cleaning is a therapy to me, and I believe it can be for many people. It makes sense, when nothing is going your way, you can see the results of your actions by cleaning. Clean surroundings help you in many ways, mentally and physically…but that just might be “my thing.”
Today, a group of us spent our morning picking out “pretty rocks” to put around the plants, so we could clean up the playground a little and make it look better. It might not be the biggest change, but the smallest things make the biggest differences. Soon enough, the children started helping us pick up garbage around the playground and collecting rocks.
Speaking of cleaning, we also took down a classroom at Pronoie today. The side room is being taken down to be rebuilt into a proper classroom. It was a rush, hammering down walls and big pieces of wood that hold up the ceiling.
All I witnessed were happy, smiling faces at the end of the long busy day. We ended the night with a dinner together in Barranco, at a near by restaurant. The participants explored different kinds of foods like Anticucho (Cow heart), Cheetah fish (still not sure what it is), Ceviche (raw fish dish), and much more.