Thanks from Shiron for the latest update from our project in Villa Maria, Peru
¡Ay, Dios Mios! We have arrived in Villa Maria and already two weeks have passed. In this time, I personally have fulfilled a plethora of characters whether it is Scooby Doo, Pepe Vasquez, Don Omar or even Ron (rum in Spanish) and the range seems to show no end.
So what have we been up to? Well, we arrived fresh faced at Jorge Chavez airport at 1:00am after a long flight to be greeted by our leader, Robert Thoren who took us down to the school where we are staying. At first sight as we travelled through the streets of Lima, there was an overwhelming sense of poverty but yet it was impossible to detract from a unique sense of beauty. During the first few days, we were introduced to the markets from which we have to buy the food daily to cook, the neighbouring areas and the daily routine of life in Villa Maria. As we walked around the town, we would often hear the term “gringo” (foreigner) being flung around but despite the name we were greeted with open and welcome arms wherever we went.
The fun began on the Saturday when we held the weekly “feria” (fair) where we dress up in costumes and entertain the children for a few hours. Around hundred local children turned up for fun and games with the chance to win sweets and prizes. These amazing children are the most sincere people I have ever met and their smiles highlighted their indomitable spirit. Most days comprise of a game of football which is the most tiring experience of my life but the talent on the pitch is worth the effort. On the Sunday, we had to learn how to dance, literally considering none of us could dance, with the exception of Warren. Warren has been a sensation with the girls in Villa Maria, and is more commonly known as Jackie Chan or Super Junior, a K-Pop artist. At first, it was rather embarrassing but that sense of embarrassment was short-lived as we destroyed the dance and if that was not bad enough I, Ron was called down to dance solo to a rather fast-paced song. An immediately obvious observation made by the team was about the open-minded nature of the children as they came to the stage without any fuss and joined in.
What about the more serious matter of helping the impoverished? Well, we went to the sites of the families for whom we will be building the homes for, and in every case I had to remain composed and keep away the “man” tears. The worst case witnessed was that of a family, whose shack had burnt down and had nowhere to live. Luckily the Quest team were on call and we came together to build a house in one day for this family to sleep in. You could see the gratitude of the family in their sparkling eyes as they finally had somewhere to call home. The cases we have witnessed are without doubt eye-watering and will continue in this rather blunt nature. All we can do is be grateful for everything we take for granted in our lives.
We have not had many chances to try Peruvian cuisine, but still we have eaten “ceviche” (fish cooked in lime juice) and even tried chirimoya and prickly pears. With such a range of food and fruits on offer, I can wait to delve further into Peruvian cuisine and culture. Only two more weeks to go but I cannot wait to dance, play, build and eat more. Thank you for reading my blog and watch out for more blogs from the Villa Maria Summer 2013 team. Hope you enjoyed.