After many days of travel and delay, I have finally returned to the legendary Puerto Alegria where I will be living for the next three months.
Upon arrival to Peru, I spent a three days in Lima before flying north to Iquitos. I spent another night in the city at La Lampara, Scripture Union’s home base for the medical program, because of issues with the boat’s motor. It was not until Wednesday afternoon that I finally reached Puerto Alegria.
I arrived to the home with Gene and Patty, the former house parents, to meet the new parents, Moises and Mery.
It has been very nice to become re-acclimated with the boys – many of which are still here from 2009. I always find it interesting to see what they did during the past year, and learn some of the new games, jokes, and stories – all the things boys like.
But, before all of that, a conversation with a boy from last year usually begins with “recuerdas cuando…” (Remember when…) about a particular event from last summer. Joel asked me if I remembered when there was a huge billboard that had fallen across the road in front of us in Iquitos. Junior asked me if I remembered a particular afternoon we spent lounging in a hammock down by the river. And Marcelo asked me if I remember being his “protectora” during an intense thunderstorm boat ride from Iquitos. It was raining so hard that we all were soaked, cold and tired. Marcelo, who was sitting next to me, huddled under my arm to evade the rain as we sang songs together.
From Wednesday until today, I have been getting back into the routine of living with the Girasoles and at Puerto Alegria. Mornings start at 5:45 with straightening of rooms, a devotional led by Moises, and breakfast before the boys are out the door to school at 7:30. After they are off to school, I spent the next few hours working on some projects, getting to know the other SU staff here, and reading.
This Sunday morning (tomorrow) the non-profit group The Not Forgotten (based in Birmingham, Alabama) will arrive. While a handful of the people in the group are from Birmingham/Huntsville, it is a mixed group of people from all over the States – basically, they all knew somebody who knows somebody who has been to Peru (including a friend of Billy who used to come with Ward in Northville). The Not Forgotten partners with Scripture Union Peru to bring work teams exclusively to Puerto Alegria 3 to 4 times a year and works to raise awareness about the plight of street boys in Peru.
It all begins tomorrow.