Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"¿Cómo te llamas?": First Day of Literature Class and the Orphanage

Today's breakfast consisted of panqueques (pancakes) with a kind of caramel-looking sauce and fresh orange juice. What a way to start our day of "firsts". We, then, walked to the infamous "Calle de José Carlos Mariátegui" where Yure's house is located. It is here that we began our first class on Mariátegui's Siete Ensayos. It is only fitting that we talk about him on the street named after him. We explored his ideas about how cultural conflict influences the Peruvian economy.

Lunch was delicious as always here at Yure's house. We had a large plate of spaghetti! It was just the meal we needed before venturing over to the orphanage to meet the energetic children.

Today we visited a local orphanage, Centro de Atención Residential Juan Pablo II. This was the first of many afternoons teaching and playing with children of all ages and personalities.

We were each assigned to a Casita (little apartment) which had about 10 children each. From the moment we walked through the doors of the casita (little apartment), the children latched onto us. All they needed to do was ask one question: "¿Cómo te llamas?" ("What is your name?"). Other questions came later, but none repeated as much as this one. 

The orphanage is not the only one in Cusco, but it is the only one of its kind. The children range from 6 months to 15 years old. They live in 5 casitas. Each casita has a "mamá" that looks after them. These women come from a variety of backgrounds. Either they never married or have been divorced. All of these mothers, no matter their background, are focused on providing a caring environment for the children. Most of the mothers are there because they do not have a family of their own; however, who could ask for a better community than the one established at the orphanage.

The children can be adopted by foreigners as well as locals through the normal adoption process. After today, I have no doubt that many of us wished we could bring them home. 

While with the children, we helped them with a variety of tasks, whether it was homework problems or getting plenty of air on the swings. In Michael's case, the children were allowed to go the park after they had finished their homework. One girl still had not finished and the rest of the children came to help her. Teamwork at its best! Amy and her children played with blocks and sang "Bumblebee" in English. Beth and Angie C were in the same casita because one casita was not present. One little boy in particular would not let go of Angie's hand. It's the little things that made it hard to leave. I, Angie B, helped one boy with mathematics homework (to the best of my ability) as well as co-drew pictures with a 6 year old boy. 

The influence that these children had on us the very first day was incredible. The moment we went to say goodbye and "hasta mañana" (until tomorrow), the children clung to us, hugged us, kissed us, and told us a very decisive "no". The best part is, that we will return tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, and the next.

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