I woke up a few days ago wondering why in the world I was dreaming about my third grade classroom. I realized that it´s probably because about 70% of my time here is spent living in the mindset of children. It´s amazing to see how long a kid´s imagination can keep them occupied and living with these children has certainly given me the chance to regress back to .. third grade maybe? That was my favorite year anyways. Despite the devestating conditions that these children live in, the Hogar is one of the happiest and loving places I have ever been. I found myself wondering what I will do when I leave and don´t have 50 little children to hug me and kiss me! My favorite little boy is probably Alex, because he gives me these little kisses and just wants to cuddle all day long.
Although it is really positive and the staff does an amazing job at keeping things that way, the stories I continue to hear about the childrens´backgrounds exceed my comprehension. Imagine being 12 years old and having Leukemia. Your parents send you to a house full of children that you have never met before. Wouldn´t you be upset? That´s why I understand why this little girl, Elizabeth, does not speak to anyone. She will nod to me sometimes when I ask her how she is or if she wants to walk with me to mass, but she is basically mute. I am hoping that one day she will realize that she is being given the best care that her family wouldn´t be able to provide for her. Another girl, Roxanna, was given a few months to live about eight months ago and is beginning to hang on by a thread. I am amazed by this little girl, because she lost her sight about a year ago, her time is getting shorter and shorter, yet she is the sweetest girl in the house. Two of the baby twins lost their hearing and their vision after being locked in a dark room for six months, because their parents didn´t know what to do with them.
I took another trip to the Lima hospital the other day, but took only one baby this time. Her name is Maylie and death is also a possibilty in her near future. She has a tube in her nose that feeds her the nutrients that she won´t eat. Her hands are usually covered in mittens and tied together so she won´t pull her tube out of her nose. I could barely understand the doctors in the offices, but I realized that if an operation was not done soon on Maylie, that she didn´t have much hope. The doctors removed the tubes from her nose before we left (I am not sure why, because they talked really fast) and she grabbed everything in sight, including my hair and the people on the bus ride home. I could understand the little girl. I know that I would want to touch everything if my hands were tied together all the time.
After I returned home from Lima on Friday, I knew that something was up with my stomach and the inevitable happened. I had my food poisoning experience that most of the volunteers usually encounter at some point during their stay. My sickness only lasted for about 16 hours and I slept most of the time. Everyone understood and Jarred, who went to med. school, hooked me up with some antibotics and some other pills. By Saturday morning I felt fine, but I have been living off cereal and bread for the past few days to stay on the safe side.
The kids clean the whole house top to bottom on Saturday mornings. They know how to clean better than I do (that´s not saying too much), but it´s impressive. The other volunteers and I tagged along with Mami Terri and one of the Mamittas to the huge market in Chosica. That´s where they buy all the produce and meat for the week. They had everything there and ridiculous amounts of people. I bought five bananas for 1 sole. We also loaded up on some delicious mandarin oranges that are better than any I have ever tasted. One thing that really freaks me out is when the kids eat chicken feet in their soup. They love that stuff.
There´s one girl I have started to admire throughout the past couple of days who is about 26. Anita is one of the most determined people I have come across. Everytime I see her she is writing and reading by herself. Since she was never educated, she is teaching herself everything from scratch so she can go out and get a job.
We have had four new volunteers arrive over the past few days. Ryan and Sean came from Rhode Island and are juniors and seniors at University of RI. Ashley and Morgan came yesterday and they´re from New York. I am enjoying meeting so many different people. The weekend has been a good time to get alittle time off and get to know them. The night life around here is low key, but it´s interesting to see. We went to a little bar the other night where they were playing ¨Laffy Taffy¨, which I think is about two or three years old in the states. This morning, a few of us went on a four hour hike up this mountain right here in Chaclacayo. My calves are mad at me but it was definitely unlike any hike I have ever taken. The mountain was full of rocks (or more like mini boulders), sand and dirt. It was almost like being in the dessert or on a little planet with craters. It was quite challenging and a little dangerous, but reaching the top was amazing. By the time we got back to the Hogar for lunch, the kids were in their Sunday afternoon movie mode. Tonight, a few of the volunteers and I are going out to eat at a local restaurant. I´m excited for my first Peruvian dinner out! Today was a good day to have time to ourselves and I am set for another week with these kids. I have started to wonder why I didn´t plan a longer trip.