Thursday, October 25, 2012

Peru, Part 2

Tuesday, October 16th arrived hot and humid--"mucho calor" in Spanish--but I didn't care.  I was SO excited because today was first day that I would get to interact with kids.  I just couldn't wait to get to the Compassion project.

Our plan was to visit PE-350, which is a large project.  It houses a Child Survival Program, a Child Development Program, and a preschool not connected to Compassion.  We left the hotel in various vans because we were also going to make home visits.  I was excited for that, too, because I knew that would open my eyes to a world of poverty that I could never imagine.  It's not that I'm excited about poverty; I just wanted to understand the lives of my children better.

When we arrived, the staff and some mothers and their children met us outside.

After we were introduced to the staff, some of the mothers performed a traditional dance for us, which is why they are in costumes.  I wasn't in the front, so there are a few people in the way,  but you can still see the beauty of the dance.

After we listened to a few of the staff talk, we went out on the balcony where the staff had set up displays for us to learn about each area of development--spiritual, cognitive, physical, and emotional.  I was very interested to learn the details of each.  For instance, every three months, they trade out toys for each child so that the child has the toys appropriate for his or her age level.  They teach the mothers how to stimulate the children to advance physically, such as learning to walk, and how to praise them when they accomplish goals.

We then went downstairs to see the rooms that are used for physical stimulation.  They showed us how they weigh and measure the height of each child.  This little guy fell asleep in his mother's arms, and even though they put him on the scale and on the measuring table, he never woke up at all.  That's how I sleep!!

Toys for the children

Sean Dana, our tour leader, with a sweet little girl

Doug West, co-leader and leader of the Northeast Advocates Regin with the same little girl and his iPhone.  Don't you love the look on her face???

One of the best parts of the visit for me is that I was able to have a conversation in Spanish with one of the mothers without a translator!  This is huge for me.  First, I was very nervous about speaking Spanish before I went on the trip, and secondly, I have only been studying it for about a year and a half.  

Here are some of the preschool children playing with a Frisbee:

The inevitable fight for possession
Next we went on our home visit.  We visited the home of Serafina, who has a one-year-old boy named Meykker.  She told us that she has four other children, the oldest of which is 19, and that she wants Meykker to be a light for the rest of the family.  Here are some photos from that visit.
Maykker and Serfina

The ceiling

Seven people live in one room

Maykker and his 9-year-old sister Jackie

More of the living area

Maykker's corner

The path down to the kitchen

The laundry--she gets water for only one hour a day

Guynabana tree--this is significant.

The view from the kitchen

The kitchen

Meykker loved the sweet potatoes in the lunch.

Our group

Our lunch--I couldn't even eat half.
The 9-year-old girl, Jackie, really touched my heart.  Even though she didn't talk, we made a connection.  As we were leaving, she gave me two fruits from the guynabana tree.  Those were for the family to eat!  I was amazed that this little girl gave me such a huge gift.  I will never forget her and her gift to me.

After lunch, we went back to the Compassion center where the children were eating the same lunch we had just enjoyed.  They soon joined us in the sanctuary of the church and were so excited to talk with us and just be with us.  No sponsor groups had ever visited the Compassion centers in the jungle, so this was a great treat for them.
The four- and five-year-olds performed a dance for us.  It was so cool!

Here are some of the children at the project:

iPhone pictures:

 We went outside to play with the kids, and it was great fun.  One of our translators, who is an American who married a Peruvian and has lived in Peru for 4 1/2 years, decided to teach them to play "Duck, Duck, Goose," although in Spanish, it is "Pato, Pato, Gonzo."  That was a HUGE hit with the kids!  Our circle got so big that we had to take the little ones out and put them in their own circle.  We did not want to leave, and the children didn't want us to, of course.


Pato, Pato, Gonzo


Oh what a surprise!  Little boys wrestling.  Hilarious

This little girl asked me to take her picture with Tracie.  Sweet.
After the visit with Serafina and with the children at the project, I couldn't understand how anyone could possibly complain about something a trivial as air conditioning in the hotel that might not be quite up to first world standards.  Poverty is moving when we read about--that's why we sponsor these children--but when I saw it with my own eyes, it humbled me.  I grew up in a family that sometimes had to scrape for food, but this was totally different.  I will never forget it.

Part 3


  1. Beautiful photos! And Sean Dana was my Compassion Tour Leader when I went to India, he is pretty great!

  2. I LOVE Sean! I kept saying, "Sean, you are awesome." He would say, "No, you are." Funny, funny guy and he really is awesome.

  3. Being with the children is the BEST! Sean Dana was my tour leader when I went to India (Mar 2012). He was very good with the children, and with a bunch of new Compassion travelers!