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Jan 16-20 – PPA week 2
PHOTOS STILL TO COME !
Monday, Jan 16
This was a day of many challenges for the entire team. Several of us had come down the Peruvian Panic, as I call it, over the weekend and were feeling drained. Add to it that Jean, Mary and I had a long weekend in hot weather and that added to the fatigue. (I will think long and hard before I commit to weekend excursions during future placements)
Painting was again a haven of calm and we added Mryna, (who is an artist) which will help tremendously. Patty, Myrna and I were doing outlining on most of the creatures and Carlos was on the ladder outlining the waves in black. Suddenly, there was an ominous sound of dripping water and we look over to see Carlos part way down the later clutching the paint and black paint dripping down the wall over the trio of octopi and all over the floor. The team sprang into action to rescue Carlos and begin sopping up the mess. There was no water close to us and our rags were not that much help. Luckily, we had paper down and could use that to stop most of it, but it was all over the ladder and covered at least 10 steps. This was at about 10:45 and I can report that by the time we left for lunch at 12:30, almost all of the repair work had been accomplished on the wall and floor. We will need to let it dry and little, and will paint over some of the characters, but if you did not know it happened, you would not be able to tell.
Siblings and the kindergarten group were pandemonium this afternoon, and if the team was frustrated on Friday, it was worse today. We were not allowed to take our group away from the others because a special teacher was coming to work with the kids and she was expected at 3:00. She finally arrived at 4:15. Jean is my new team buddy as she found she was not needed in the afternoon to work with older girls. Carolina has taken to her and Jean being a school psychologist was helpful. She drew pictures of each of the kids for them to keep and charmed Marco when she outlined a Mariposa for him to color in. (Butterfly). I have it in my keeping and will show it to you when I return.
With both groups commingled, we were 4 adults and 16 kids. Not the best ratio when it comes to 4 year olds. At one point, we were in the rusty playground and Patty was not having success keeping the girls from escaping, Roalia included in the bunch. As they disappeared around the corner, Patty and I followed to find them all squatting behind a bush, having a pee. Shrieking and running they escaped through the building. Prior to that, they had stolen the mechanical car and were running amok all over the campus. More chasing them back to the area and we all left frustrated, hot and feeling pretty defeated.
One of the things that GV indicates is that volunteers will always work with an equal number of local people. This has not been the case, and today, we had no local person to help us that added to the day. We explained our day to Mili and she helped give us a perspective. First, it was Monday and some of the kids had gone home for the weekend. Even if the PPA is better than home, they don’t always want to come back, especially because the PPA has rules and at home, there may be none. Second, the helpers that are normally present were directed by Sister to clean for the special teacher instead of helping us.
Mili had her share of frustration because she joined the bus to summer school and saw how unorganized the program was. As of today, the GV will not be doing summer school. Jean will help in the boys’ bathroom and Myrna on the mural.
Dinner for me was a subdued affair as my stomach was still iffy.
Tuesday, Jan 17
Flexibility – Mili suggested that I work with the toddlers this morning as that was what I originally had asked to do. I had a brief moment of not wanting to give up control of the mural, but knew that it would be fine under Patty’s direction. So off to Toddler land I went.
Even though I had not seen them since last Monday, they warmed up a lot faster. Bob had been working on transitioning Carlito to other people because the first few separations had been so traumatic for Carlito. I got to take several of them for a walk in the stroller, but they soon were asleep. This is not allowed because too much napping early in the day means no afternoon nap. So I took Connie and Carlito back and played with them. The rest of the group are twins, Carilta and ??, Shena, Connie (16 months) and Carlito (14 months). Carlito is one of 9 children, Connie is an only child, the twins have 4 other siblings and Shena I can’t remember. The DR was there to check them and most of them have chest congestion.
I got to feed Carlito and I think the menu was liver and rice, chicken soup with egg and then a juice drink for dessert. He was so good and ate everything, and was excellent at telling me that the soup was too hot. He did not cry, but would not accept a bite until it was cooled. Then changing and naptime. How cute! I look forward to seeing them tomorrow.
The mural looks great and progress has been made. They have completed the final stencils and now it will simply be fill in details.
The siblings were an entirely different group. Apparently, Sister had gotten to them and you would not believe these were the same children. I also was changed and stood back more instead of insinuating myself on them. The mechanical car was in view and you have never seen such teamwork in your life. The car is heavy, can seat 4 and is mechanized with a full engine. I could not believe how they all took turns, changed places and worked as a team to get that car from point A to B. Their main goal was to get it down the ramp and away from me. No such luck, but they tried.
Patty had promised the kindergarteners since they were so good today, movies tomorrow as they had missed last Friday. Jean and I decided we would add our group as well.
Dinner was at a fabulous sandwich place that was very popular. We all loved it. Mili said that one team was so picky about what they ate that they went there three times. Our group is medium picky, with one true vegetarian, one who eats no fruit or veggies, one who has a tooth ache, so only wants soft food, one who wants no additional crabs so always wants extra veggies and no rice and potatoes. Then there are the tender tummy bunch, me included who drank lots of Gatorade, ate rice, bread and not much else. Did I say we weren’t picky?
Wednesday, Jan 18
Toddlers and the worlds longest walk. Right after everyone is dressed and ready to go, usually the Brown ladies show up to help. The Brown ladies are ladies from the community who usually come in once a week to help in different areas. They all wear a brown dress and are very nice. Today, it was time for the walk so 5 adults including Pamela and I, 4 strollers with seating for 5, and 10 additional toddlers set out to Vamos a Ver (go and see). The first 5 minutes seemed to be fine, with lots of stopping to look at the mariposas and discuss the trees. One of the ladies brought saltines and another water, so when we stopped, the whole herd converged for their share. The walk fell apart with the appearance of a dog that lead 6 of them away from the herd. 10 minutes to round up the escapees. Then around the corner past where the mural was being painted and Patty signaling that they need me to go up the ladder and stencil the sun and moon. It will have to wait. At one point when we were on a concrete platform and some were too close to the edge, a car drives up. The head lady in Brown piles all the ambulatory toddlers into the car for a quick trip around the building. Then they all pile out and we continue. As soon as we were even close to the entrance, I make a beeline with my buggy loaded with two back to toddler land. I drop them off in their respective pods and run to add the stencils. The detail work looks great. Pamela informed me that when I left, each of them had 5 to handle.
I am back in toddler heaven in time to feed and this time there is one adult per child. I have Connie who eats fairly well but does lots of train wrecks for me. At least it isn’t liver and rice again, it appeared to be beef and egg and rice, noodle soup and juice for dessert. Bob 2 arrives and is supposed to help one of the twins who is really supposed to feed herself. She puts a spoon in and then he does. Everyone else is finished and she is still eating. Bob keeps calling may day and I finally bring her juice over which she drinks completely. I think she was just so thirsty, she wasn’t interested in food.
After our lunch we take the kids over to the video room that is set for about 70 kids. I walk with Diana and Wendy and Erica trails behind. I am pleased to see that Marco’s group also arrives and he ends up sitting on my lap during most of it so I am in heaven. Erica is more interested in making my watch do things than watching the video. We tried Shark tale but the DVD kept stalling so we switched to a version of 101 Dalmatians and they held it together for about 35 minutes. So many of the kids wanted you to hold their hands, sit on your lap or just have a moment of your time. I wished I was an octopus or a kangaroo so I had more lap space.
Finally it was time to go and all the kids’ whindged but with a candy in their mouth, off they went.
Dinner was at a chicken place and as I hadn’t had much to eat, I charged right in. We discussed why most of us were there and it felt like a good end to the day.
Thursday, Jan 19.
At 2:00 am, I had my first trip of many to the little room and by 3am, I knew that I would not be attending the PPA today. Major stomach upset which left we weak, sweaty and dizzy. Jean, God love her, went before breakfast to the store for Gatorade and water for me and many friends stopped by before the bus left and say Hi and see if they could do anything. At that point, most of it had stopped and I had taken my Imodium, so it was just rest and see. (Outside, Juan was getting a parking ticket for staying in one place to long)
I tried to read, but my eyes hurt. There was nothing on tv, so the ipod and I had a quiet morning. Then at 11am, a marching band marched through the square playing the Col. Boggie March from Bridge on the River Kwai. Funny, I would be in Thailand within one month and would be at my old horse camp at the river. I can’t understand why Mary or Myrna had not told me of the entertainment because both of them had stayed home one day.
I felt much better when they all returned, but did not go down to dinner, as sitting up was not a good exercise at the time. I knew that I wanted to make it on Friday, as it would be our last day at the PPA.
Friday, Jan 20
Our last day at PPA and it would be a short day as they always prepare a goodbye party for us. The team had collected money for basic office supplies for the PPA and Jean went on Thursday to Staples with Mili. She was expected a store. It was an 8 X 8 kiosk with office supplies. 10 reams of paper, pencils, pads, paper clips, etc would be our donation. Mili said other groups had done the same.
As we arrived, we knew our day would not be that productive because the Red Cross ladies arrived for their day to help. It is obvious to us that the kids do have visitors off and on and that there might be other kids who could use our help. But we also knew that we would cherish the relationships that we had with the kids we worked with and feel that in some ways, we did make a difference. Mili kept stressing that to us. Just because the difference wasn’t the one we were expecting, that did not mean that there was not a difference. Hopefully, by the time we left, we were thinking a little more like a Peruvian than someone from the US.
I spent the morning signing the mural, looking in on the toddlers, organizing the office supplies and generally walking around and taking pictures. Lunch was water for me and at the party, I took one sip of the Pisco Sour and the Inca Cola. (National pop drink that is yellow like Mt. Dew, has a banana smell and it sweet and bubbly).
I could not wait to see the bus unload from summer school so that I could find my four favorite siblings for photos. (The highest count that came off the bus at one time was 191. Remember, in the States, the bus would have seated 48 kids). It arrived and immediately, I saw Diana and Wendy and we had a photo. Then there was Marco and Erica and again a photo. Then a little munchkin asked for a photo he is in the camera as well. What lovely kids they are.
As I look at the PPA, I kept asking other people if they had unlimited money, where would they put their energy. Mary as the former nurse would help the clinic. Bob 2 felt that there could be better vocational training for the older boys and girls, because at 18, they can no longer stay at the PPA. With upwards of 50 % unemployment and a lot of underemployment and limited college opportunities, they need some help.
As the PPA sits right now, although the building need major help, I believe they use their money where it is needed most, the kids. They are clean, well fed and safe. For all they have been through or continue to go through, they are amazingly happy and accepting.
I would spend my money to get the basic office supplies for the staff and work with them to repair more the buildings so they would have more space that was usable. Peru has two cycles of major earthquakes (30 and 50 years) and the buildings are not built to withstand them. That is where I would put my money.
The goodbye party had each of us stand and tell the group what we had learned. Mary brought us to tears as she said thank you and that each of us was leaving a little of our heart at the PPA. Then a small selection of girls and boys did a dance for us complete with hips swaying and shoulder shimmies.
Group picture and then we had our last trip on the blue bus. The next time we come back, it will be a new bus.
Dinner was in the suburb of Barranco, the artist colony. Water and rice for me and packing and early to bed, because tomorrow, Jean and I leave for Casco and then Machu Picchu.
Thank you Mili and the PPA. It was wonderful and I will never forget the faces of the angels at the PPA. What a way to start my trip! YAAAAH!