This is a map of Scripture Union’s Casa Girasoles homes for abandoned boys (in blue) and major Peruvian cities (black).
There are currently 6 sites owned and operated by SU Peru with plans to add a new site each year until 2015.
Here’s a little background information about the non-profit I am working with while in Peru. The majority of my time is spent within the Programa Girasoles abandoned boys program, working as a translator and guide for visiting work teams from the United States and United Kingdom.
Scripture Union is involved in six different ministries in Peru:
– the publication of Bible reading aids, working with church leaders
– work with the hearing impaired, penetrating families who see their children as God’s curse
– a growing schools work, where staff teach Christian values in public schools
– a full camping program for children on the Pacific coast, high in the Andes and deep in the jungle
– an innovative medical outreach located in the Amazon Basin
– a unique ministry to abandoned boys, known as Programa Girasoles, where 40 abandoned boys live with a family in a Casa Girasoles.
In addition, to these six ministries, Scripture Union has 6 worksites available to work teams from all over the world. Each site is home to a Casa Girasoles (a home for abandoned boys), and has plenty of work to do.
Scripture Union Sites
Started in 1978, Kawai is the Pacific beach campsite and home for abandoned boys, located approximately 1.5 hours south of Lima.
In Kawai, SU is building beach condos to rent as part of their income generating projects, which enable the organization to become more self-supporting. At present, Scripture Union covers 72% of its budget through income generating projects.
Groups that visit Kawai interact with the 30 boys and their house parents, Raul and Rosa, and since they visit during the winter, they have full run of the campsite.
To reach this high jungle campsite, groups travel 8 hours by bus from the desert over the Andes (at approximately 16,000 ft.) and down to the mountainous jungle area.
To reach Kimo, a hand pulled cable car shuttles people across the torrent Chanchamayo River, 6-8 people at a time. Cabins built with palm leaf roofs make the perfect place to rest. There is a lake to swim in, trails that lead to waterfalls, and plenty of work to be done. A new home for abandoned boys is being built in Kimo, which is expected to be completed during 2010. Currently, two of our older boys from Puerto Alegria live in Kimo, where they have trained as carpenters and are now pursuing other studies in town.
Kusi (Quechua for Joy)
Kusi is nestled high in the Peruvian Andes nearby the town of Yungay, a 9 hour bus ride from Lima.
Currently, Scripture Union has been given the privilege of supervising an elementary school for over 100 children from the nearby area. One of its kind, this school is available for the poorer families of the area and is financed by the Peruvian government, but administered by SU Peru. Groups have the opportunity to visit the school and lead songs and games one morning they are in Kusi.
There are currently 43 boys living in the Casa Girasoles with the house parents Angel and his wife Rosa.
Work teams make adobe bricks to help create the little village of Kusi. Plans have been made to include a city square with all the necessary buildings around it – chapel, city hall, school, stores and homes.
Puerto Alegria (Port of Happiness)
Our Amazon site is an hour away from Iquitos in the Amazon River basin. Work teams stay in a dormitory setting with a bunk bed in each room. The 42 boys who live in Puerto Alegria eat their meals with teams, and go to school in the mornings just a few hundred yards away.
Puerto Alegria is the most rustic site still since there is no electricity. There is, however, a generator and, therefore, you have lights in the evenings when needed. The Casa Girasoles house parents are Gene and Patty.
In Puerto Alegria, we are building a new campsite for schools and churches and to generate money for the program. It is all on the same property where the teams stay.
Each week a day is arranged to travel into Iquitos where Scripture Union has a medical clinic and an outreach program for semi-abandoned boys. Work teams visit the market area of Belen and see poverty in a way that most visitors have never seen.
Valle Sagrado (Cusco)
Live the splendor of the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, recently voted one of seven modern wonders of the world.
Days are spent building the Casa Girasoles Valle Sagrado which is located 1 hour outside of Cusco, and 15 minutes from Urubamba. Work teams help make adobe bricks to expand the home. There are 40 boys at the Casa Girasoles, and the house parents are Hector and Maritza,
Many teams spend a day traveling through the Sacred Valley on a one-of-a-kind train ride to the lost city of the Incas. The very core of Scripture Union and the very center of the Inca Empire (Cusco means navel or center of the universe) join hands in the wonderfully alive and remote southern Andes to bring an experience of a lifetime.
Inaugurated in January 2008 as the Casa Girasoles Ica, this site is located in the desert city of Ica, approximately 4 hours south of Lima. Work teams stay on site with the 42 boys that live at the home. The house parents in Ica are Augusto and Nancy.
Since Ica is located in the desert, there is very little water for cooking, drinking and cleaning. One afternoon during a week, work teams distribute water to the surrounding areas. For 80 soles, teams purchase 1000 liters of water that can help many families that can’t afford to purchase clean water.
At the heart of the entire program is our Centro Girasoles that is located in Lima’s downtown historical district. At the end of July, this program along with the abandoned boys and offices will be moved to a location 45 minutes outside of the city of Lima in Chosica.
Just a short 8 days until I jet off to the far away lands of Peru again.
Here’s a quick run down of my tentative Peruvian itinerary.
May 27: Arrive
May 28 – June 13: Kusi
June 14 – 17: Lima
June 18 – 25 : Cusco
June 26 – 27 : Lima / Kawai
June 28 – July 4 : Ica
July 5 – August 16 : Iquitos (Puerto Alegria)
August 16 – 21 : Ica and/or Kusi
I stress that this is a tentative itinerary because the last time I spent a few months in Peru, the original schedule was completely different than what I actually did. Nothing is ever set in stone, and quite frankly, I have had schedule changes right up to the very last minute and even after going along with previous plans.
Even though I expect this itinerary to change, I’m pretty happy with the way it stands right now.
Sand boarding in at the Huacachina dunes nearby Ica with the team from Dearborn.
Last week was spent at the Casa Girasoles Ica and working in the local schools.
The Dearborn team was the first work team to stay at the site with the boys for a long period of time. Because of the newness of everything (the Casa Girasoles Ica was inaugurated on January 20th this year) and being the first work team to stay with the boys, it was a new experience for the boys and house parents, Augusto and Nancy.
I spent every moment I had not working or sleeping, playing and talking with the boys or Augusto & Nancy. Since I had been to Ica once before this summer and I was the Scripture Union worker, I didn’t seem to be one of the team, but rather an extension of the house parents. All of the 22 boys knew my name and would call me Señorita Kate. If Augusto or Nancy weren’t around, they turned to me. I helped with homework assignments, led them in prayers and song before meals, and helped Augusto & Nancy take care of 22 boys.
Schools in Peru run a little differently than they do in the US. Instead of going to school all day, there are two shifts of children and teachers. The boys at the Casa Girasoles all go to school in the afternoon, which means they start at 1pm and are in classes until 6pm. On Wednesday evening, I was able to go with Augusto to the school to pick up the boys from classes. It was fun to see where they go to school and to surprise them. On Friday, the entire team showed up to the school with Augusto to visit the classrooms of the boys. They had no clue that we were coming and later that night, they all were talking about their special visitors to school!
Today, July 6th, is Día del Maestro (Day of the Teacher) in Peru. Augusto, who treats each one of the boys as his own sons, invited the teachers at their school to the home on Saturday to thank and show them where the boys live. Since the house is painted white, and Augusto & Nancy wanted to make a good impression on the teachers, they decided on Friday morning to repaint all the walls (both inside and out) of the large house and do a super cleaning of everything. Now, you can imagine what needs to be done to a 4-person house to be cleaned, imagine what has to be done to a house with 22 boys! Needless to say, many of the older boys stayed up quite late into the night cleaning and repainting their home.
At the party for the teachers, we played games with the teachers and boys. A few days earlier we had made the hand print shirts with the Ica boys too, and they all wore them at the teacher party. We were also fortunate to have somebody donate about 60 Beanie Babies that we were able to pass out to the boys. They carried them around all morning and during the games, many gave me their treasured gifts to keep safe while they played in the grass.
Now, I am staying in Lima for a few days before heading to another jungle site Kimo.