I was pleasantly surprised after I had finally recieved my duffle bag after convincing myself that it had been lost. According to others on my plane, apparently lost baggage in the Lima airport is quite common. Terri, known by the children as ¨Mama Terri!!!!¨, was waiting for me with the taxi driver. I was so relieved that she had returned from her break in the states literally 20 minutes before I arrived. Terri is Dr. Lazzara´s right hand (wo)man and when the doctor is not around, Terri is in charge of the Hogar. The doctor has left for Tampa with one of the patients, Victor, who is 10 years old and has no arms and no left leg. He eats, drinks, writes, and everything else with his right leg. Every six months, Dr. Lazzara and Victor travel to the states for his treatment. The other volunteers were quick to inform me that despite his condition, Victor has quite the personality.
Arriving at the Hogar past midnight, I was greeted by one of the night nurses and knew that I would not see the children until the morning. I did meet one of the other volunteers, Darrah, who is 27 and from Ireland. He has been here for six weeks and I´m not sure if he knows when he´s leaving. There is only one other volunteer right now, Jarred, who is 30 and from Kansas. He has been here for four and a half months and plans to stay for another month. They are both so helpful with great sense of humors.
I woke up to the voices of the children singing and I wandered downstairs to find the ¨Mamitas¨ preparing for lunch in the kitchen. I talked to them about my cousins who they obviously all love and miss. I walked out into the courtyard and I was instantly swarmed by the most adorable kids on earth. ¨Como te llamas, Amiga!!¨ Alfredo was the first little boy who spoke to me. I felt a differnet kind of love that I have never felt before. I played with a few and then I took a look around and noticed the ones with the third degree burns masking their faces and the one with cerebral palsy in the wheelchair. I noticed the blind one sitting in silence. These kids from devestating backgrounds and live with horrible conditions, but all they really want is to be loved and to love back. All they want to do is laugh, give you kisses, run around, and eat chocolate. We walked down to the beautiful park, swang, and played ¨Gatos y rato¨ (I still don´t really understand how to play, but I tried). Later on, we went to mass and I tried to understand as much as I could from the Spanish sermon.
The stories that I have heard from Terri, Darrah, and Jarred continue to blow my mind. A precious girl, Angela, has a father who tried to kill her twice. Roxanna is a little girl who recently lost her eyesight and has to be on steroids. Luis and Flor are siblings and were burnt in a house fire. Flor wears a mask over her face and arms. She has become my favorite little girl, because she just does not stop talking and singing. I made the mistake of showing them my ipod, because now that´s all they want to do! My spanish is rusty because I haven´t taken it in a year, but some of the kids even know a tiny bit of English. They are being taught it in school and I have quickly realized that many of them are very smart.
It´s almost lunchtime at the Hogar, which will probably be rice, beans, and soup. Dinner is usually some kind of chicken with more rice and a little dessert. They start off the day with homemade bread and butter and warm chocolate milk. It´s yummy. Tomorrow they will be back to school and I will be traveling into Lima to assist with taking the children to the hospital.
It´s a lot prettier here than I imagined. It´s 75 degrees and breezy. I was able to run this morning and take in Chaclacyo´s residential area. The streets are lined with bright pink and yellow flowers and there are parakeets and green & yellow parrots flying around. I have never been anywhere where the birds I usually have in cages in my house are flying around outside.
Time to eat!