Boys at Casa Girasoles Puerto Alegria dancing to the Pato Song with a work team from North Carolina.
Another week has passed in Peru and I just couldn’t be happier. I just returned from being in the northern part of the country, way up in the jungle by the Amazon River, from the city of Iquitos.
I had never been to Iquitos before so everything was new to me. Scripture Union has a boys home in the nearby village (even that is too much for the area, it’s more like 10 homes in one area on the River Atalya) of Puerto Alegria, where 40 boys live in the Casa Girasoles.
The site parents, Gene and Patty, live at the home with their two children and the 40 boys. (All of the SU sites are called Casa Girasoles – which means Sunflower Home. The idea is, like a real sunflower that follows the sun throughout the day, these boys will follow the Son throughout their life).
Since Puerto Alegria is in the northern jungle area of Peru, it was quite hot and humid all the time. You would wake up in the morning to humid warm weather, and go to bed at night with your sheets slightly damp. Showers didn’t help and with the construction work, it was always sweaty. Not to mention, also being in the jungle, there were a lot of interesting and new bugs – and of course the familiar mosquito. So, bug spray was a must and now I have a lot of bites all over my arms and legs.
But despite all these not-so-pleasant things, Puerto Alegria has to be one of my favorite places in Peru. The site, which means Port of Happiness, exudes happiness, fun and love. The forty boys, who range between 8 and 18, were a joy and every spare minute was spent with them. I have hundreds of photos of my new friends (one or two I will hopefully send along soon), and many fun stories and jokes shared with them. I have never felt so comfortable with these Girasoles boys. It was hard to leave the site this morning knowing that I might not be back this summer, or next year, but I’m going to try to work something out…
Now, it’s to the Pacific Ocean (where, sadly, it’s cold and gray all the time) with my home team from Dearborn!
It’s been almost two weeks since I left Michigan for a summer of working and traveling around the great Incan country of Peru.
For those of you that don’t know, I am spending my summer volunteering with Scripture Union of Peru, and organization that primarily works with former abandoned boys around the country, but also many other things. As an “intern”, I travel with the various work teams from around the US and UK, who come to Peru to work at the organization’s homes for abandoned boys, in local schools and do construction work. A typical day for a work teams includes a morning of construction work, an afternoon of songs and games at a school, and an evening with the boys that live at the various centers across the country (like an orphanage). (I’m working on uploading photos from this year, but accessing the Internet from my laptop is a rare occurrence – this is the first time I have been able to check my email in 2 weeks!).
Upon arrival to Peru, I joined a group from Southwood Presbyterian in Huntsville, Alabama. The 17-person team was made up high school juniors, seniors, recent graduates, and some parents. I, being the only one from the North, was quickly dubbed “the Yankee” and was also the one with the accent. Any time I didn’t know what they were talking about, or asked for a pop instead of a Coke, or pointed out one of our many little differences, it was explained as a “Northern thing.” I spent a part of the week with the entire team at the SU home in Kawai and a small two-day trip to the desert city of Ica, before a majority of them traveled to another work site in Cusco. The rest of the week, I returned to Kawai with the 5 remaining members to continue working, visiting schools, and playing games with the former abandoned boys.
After taking the Southwood team to the airport, I met up with a good friend, Linda, who is in charge of the entire Scripture Union schools program in Peru. Under Linda, there are workers in each of the regions and major cities of Peru. Each regional worker has many volunteers who visit their local schools everyday sharing positive values such as honesty, respect, integrity, etc. Many of the children that these people work with do not have positive home lives and are not learning these things from their parents or teachers. Each volunteer spends about one or two hours in a school, visiting classrooms and playing with the children.
This week, I am with Linda and a group of school teachers from Southlake Christian Academy in Charlotte, NC in Arequipa (city in the southern part of Peru). We arrived in Arequipa after a 14 hour bus ride from the capital city, Lima and jumped right into working! We are visiting various schools all day along, and at night, the teachers are sharing teaching tips with the SU volunteers and local teachers.
On Wednesday, I leave the group of teachers to head back to Lima to meet yet another team from North Carolina. We will spend the night in Lima and then the next day fly up to the northern city of Iquitos, which is located in the Amazon jungle. It’s quite hot and humid in Iquitos, and should be quite interesting…. After my week in Iquitos, my team from First Presbyterian Dearborn will be here for two weeks. It will be nice to see some familiar faces from home!
Some memorable moments from my 7th annual trip to Peru (June 20 – July 5 2007) to work with Scripture Union.
“Jane & Charlie’s Song”
A lively rendition of the joys and perils of the trip.
Kate from England shares a colloquial English term.
“Not a Good Idea”
The boys attempt to get into a locked room in one of the bugalows in Kawai.
Courtesy of YouTube and Randy, my brother.
Hola desde Caraz!
Boy was I right, yesterday was a long long day of traveling – starting at 3:30am in Detroit all the way until 11 when we finally made it into Lima.
We spent the night in Lima and rose early this morning to have breakfast with the boys in Lima and then make the 9 hour trek through the Andes to our northern site, Kusi. The trip was just beautiful and I am very excited to look as my photos when we return. The little town of Caraz is quaint, and very uneventful, but the weather so far is just beautiful.