The first several days of my stay in Lima have been a whirlwind. Unlike some other tours and travel experiences, this trip is curated by a wonderful charity, A Fresh Chapter. I will speak more about their very positive and progressive program, their integrated concepts of well-being and the quality individuals that facilitate and lead this organization in later posts. Trust me, it will be worth your time reading about these people and this program.
Each day of my visit so far has been a mix of volunteering activities to support local organizations, volunteer group engagement encounters, organized visits to interesting cultural sites, sightseeing in the area of Lima and time for personal self-reflection. It has been a great blend of experiences that has pulled me out of my normal mode of interacting with the world and others, and I am not alone. And this reality has a lot more depth than the few words in this last sentence contains can convey.
I leave again in a few minutes for the preschool where I am volunteering. The children I work with, who I am now calling “Mi Niños and Niñas,” are full of energy, raw emotions, enthusiasm and are nothing short of darling. I have two Niños myself that have now grown into men, so for me it’s been awhile since I have had the opportunity to spend regular time with small kids. I loved being a Dad and hanging out with my two boys when they were young. And after just a few days with these little Peruvian whirlwinds, I am actually excited to go back and see them again today.
I am grateful that this was the opportunity that came to me for a volunteering and starting off my adventure. The kids, and especially the fantastic preschool teachers, are completely inspiring.
I know some of you have reached out and asked to see photos and I promise you they are coming soon. Because A Fresh Chapter partners with the respected international volunteering facilitation group Cross Cultural Solutions that uses Native Peruvians as partners on our projects, we are more in tune with the communities than some more typical “well-meaning charity tourism” outfits. Instead of walking in on day one of our assignments with cell phones out and taking and posting selfies, we were told that photos were off limits, that is until we build a relationship of trust and care with the people we are meeting and serving in Peru. Pictures may be possible but only if we are invited to take them. With the terrible reputation Western and now Eastern 1st World people have for not seeing local people as equal human beings that deserve respect, and instead using locals as props for selfie backdrops, my volunteer partners (people that I am coming to call my friends) and I are eager to be better ambassadors of both out countries and of the world in general to those in need. We have refrained from photos, but based upon the acceptance, appreciation and love we are receiving from the Peruvian kids and their teachers, I am sure photos will be part of our day today.
I look so forward to sharing the smiles I have been receiving these last few days with all of you!!!!
Chau for now.