It has been a busy few months between school, meetings and trips!
Will has thoroughly enjoyed being back in school for his Kindergarten year. His level of Spanish has increased drastically in the last couple months and it’s amazing to see him interacting with his classmates and other Spanish speakers while we’re out. They recently celebrated “Día de la Educación Inicial” (Preschool Education day) and on another day were asked to dress as their favorite storybook character.
Billy and Jocabeth (a Paths of Hope staff member) recently traveled to the Girasoles homes in Ica and Urubamba to meet with the staff to discuss the Comunidad Girasoles program we are working on in partnership with Health Bridges International. The goal of Comunidad Girasoles is to prepare the youth for transition into adulthood, focusing on necessary life skills, and building connection to their local community and systems of support that they can rely on as they look to life beyond the homes. They also met with the older boys in the homes who will be ageing out of care in the next 1 to 3 years to discuss next steps and seek their input as active participants in the program.
Billy continues to walk alongside a few men who are currently in prison here in Peru. A few months ago Billy received a call from one of them saying that he would be released soon but not sure exactly when it would be. Of course it ended up taking longer than originally expected but all the paperwork was finally sorted and Billy was able to have lunch with him in-person!
In-person visits to the prison have very recently begun again and Billy was able to go visit one of the men. Unfortunately there were long lines to get in and out of the prison, so they were not able able to spend a long time visiting but did manage to have lunch together and catch up. These stamps and numbers written on Billy’s arms are part of the entry and exit process of visiting an inmate.
Billy was invited to share at a missions conference about our Caminando Juntos mentoring program. The conference was held by the Christian Missionary Alliance church in Villa El Salvador, on the south side of Lima. Ana, who participated in our first Trauma Competent Caregiving training, attends the CMA church and has been volunteering at a children’s home close to the church. She invited Billy to meet with her pastor and the children’s home staff to open the door for the church to begin a mentoring program with the children’s home. The pastor was interested in the ministry opportunity and invited Billy to share in their upcoming conference. There were over 50 people from the church in his session who got to hear about the mentoring program. Billy also shared about our next Trauma Competent Caregiver training and encouraged them to register.
This week was the last of our virtual Center of Excellence trainings with the homes in Ica and Urubamba. Later this month, the Center of Excellence team will be traveling to the homes to wrap up these 13 months with one final in-person unit before we shift gears and review data to determine the next steps of the program. Billy will travel to Ica and Will and I will be able to join them for the Urubamba visit.
For Will’s school break in May we traveled to Tarapoto and Chachapoyas in northern Peru to spend a week in the high jungle and mountains. It was Will’s first time in the jungle and a region of Peru that was new for all of us. We had planned to visit Kuelap, a pre-Incan fortress (sometimes described as a Machu Picchu in northern Peru) located close to Chachapoyas, but unfortunately it had closed about a month prior due to excessive raining and subsequent landslides that damaged the ruins. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time, hiked through lots of beautiful scenery, and spent lots of time outside!
Will acquired a new skill in this last week and now can ride a two wheel bicycle! After us loosely holding his bike going back and forth many times through an empty parking lot and lots of shaky ‘almost falling’ moments, something clicked the next day when we went to practice, and he just took off down the sidewalk. He would also like to share that he can swim with his face and head in the water (while using goggles) and swim down to touch the bottom of a pool – another little skill that developed literally overnight. Apparently there have been quite a few developmental milestones going on here recently!
As always, we very much appreciate your prayers for us, our ministry and for the country and people of Peru.
– Kate, Billy & Will