Thursday, 10 May 2012

A bad weekend and some things I will dearly miss

Last weekend was really hard for us all because of something that happened with one of the members of staff. 
Around March time we had a meeting with Hugo (all the vols) to discuss some of the things we had concerns about and wanted to help with. The three main points were starting up some kind of English lessons or taller, issues with the education here and boys always copying and the emphasis not being on actual understanding of whats being taught, but mostly presentation, and abuse towards the kids - mainly concerning one member of staff. We just wanted to discuss with him what to do if we saw any kind of abuse, what his stance was on what is unacceptable, talk about how to prevent it, and to let him know he needed to pay more attention to it in the pabellons because there are unacceptable things going on with some of the staff. We decided not to name names because we didn't know what he knew and didn't want to get anyone fired on the spot, and asked him to bring it up in the next tutors meeting, which he did. During orientation there was some great information about how to discipline kids without violence, and we suggested that if he could, to provide the staff with more of that. Most of them come here with no training, so we were thinking give some information to work with, then see who continues mistreating the kids.
But then last week  it went too far in Sonrisa when one of the hermanas shoved shit in a boys face for pooing his pants. Then in the face of four others because they'd done badly in their exams. Rosanna ended up leaving work in tears and we all got together to speak to Hugo and told him what happened. He asked for a list in writing of what things she had done in the past - washing the kids' mouths out with soap for talking too much, banging heads together, dragging kids around by their cheeks or ears, hitting and kicking the boys, smearing shit in their faces are just some of them - and said he'd speak to her in the next couple of days. 
Rosanna went to check what he was going to do the next day, and there was talk of her staying on in Sonrisa or maybe moving up to San Antonio. At this point we were all so frustrated and sad for the boys. Almost all of them come here from an abusive family seeking somewhere safe and this is the treatment they recieve. These boys that we love and work for were being treated like this and we were all just spitting. If Hugo allowed this hermana to continue working, then he was saying it's okay to treat our children like this. I don't fucking think so. Laura went to have a word with the Hermana Mayor in San Antonio to warn her why that hermana might be swapped into San Antonio and she refused.   She's been here for around 15 years now and I reckon Hugo's a little bit intimidated to her, but I think that was the final answer he needed. Luckily on Monday she was told to pack her bags and a replacement was sent into Sonrisa. We're just hoping this woman will be better with the kids, and not resort to violence.

Apart from this, things have been pretty normal, boring and nice. It's hard to describe to people back home what it's like here, but have definately realised we haven't got much time left :( and I started thinking about some of the things I'm going to miss. Maybe this will give you an idea of some of the small things that put a smile on my face:

- Being able to buy chifles for 50 centimos when I want a snack
- My little bed/den
- Peruvian style palo cleaning
- Trying not to laugh when all the pequeñitos are asleep in church
- Then resorting to holding the their nose when they really don't want to wake up
- Anderson, my biggest fan here (Aged 5) saying 'Good night beautiful sister Hannah' just about every night before bed
- Abram's laugh
- Jhover's smile
- Sitting in the roperia folding and listening to reggaeton on Okey radio - 91.9FM
- It being acceptable for me not to shave for six weeks
- Voldemort hiding on the back of every pack of cigs
- Living with Evie, Harriet and Rosanna, Americans downstairs and Christoff round the corner
- Bright and colourful peruvian patterns
- Cusqueña
- Daily sunshine
- Speaking and learning spanish
- Seeing my boys' faces and how excited they are about just being
- The sound of laughing and screaming
- Constantly eating carbs
- Elisa and Doris' alternative dancing in Alabanza
- Seeing my boys jump up and start dancing when a song they know comes on the radio
- Cremoladas
- Pollo a la braza
- Cheap, tasty, tropical fruit from the market
- Nothing ever having a fixed price and always trying to get a good deal
- Moto taxis
- Being able to go on a weekend trip to somewhere amazing for so cheap
- Discotecas that are open till dawn
- Sitting outside and watching the boys play
- The look on one of my boys' face when they've learned something new
- Arturo trilling Que Riccoooo at everything
- Chats in the tutoria with Anita and Elisa when all the boys are in bed
- Tiny people hugging my legs
- Boys running up to me with arms open for their hug and kiss before bed
- DVD lady and DVDs costing 60p
- The feeling that anything is possible when you're on a bus somewhere you've never been before
- Chatting away to other travellers
- Winkyface from San Antonio turning round in Church
- Paseos to see the chickens, horses and pigs at the farm
- Giggling when Father Sergio gets in a kerfuffle about us running through the prayer and having to do it again
- Sebastian's timid sweet smile
- When I'm feeling down and one of my boys comes up to me and says 'te queiro mucho hermana' out of nowhere
- Feeling so proud when my boys read a passage at the front of church or dance in front of an audience
- The excitement when you recieve a parcel
- Everything being little - little chairs, little toilets, little clothes, little socks to put on little feet

I could go on and on - the list is endless. In short, I'm really loving work at the moment. I do not want to leave. Don't even want to think about saying goodbye!

We've also been trying to take advantage of the culture, especially seen as we live in a capital city, and went to see a ballet/modern dance, a museum about the Shining Path terrorism that Peru suffered and a memorial that's been put up to honour the lives that were lost. 

This week has been a short one because of extended salida so we're going to Huanchaco tonight! Can not wait!

Adios amigos, 

Moffy xxx

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


With everyone here being very Catholic Pascua was a big holiday here. Bigger even than Christmas! It started on the 1st April with Domingo de las Palmas, where they celebrate the day Jesus first arrived as a mesiah into Jerusalén and was welcomed with the public waving palm leaves in his honour. We got everyone together by the main entrance to Ciudad to wave their palm leaves at the preists and walked down the street and into the Church.

I was brought up Agostic and knew almost nothing about Pascua so it´s been really interesting to learn all about it. There´s something different to learning at the same time as taking part of it instead of just reading about it or something. Especially because the people I´m able to ask questions to are Catholic themselves and this holiday is very important to them. Jackie, the secretary at Ciudad, called us into the office and gave us us some information about Pascua and what it´s all about, which I thought was quite sweet. She also said the boys would be asking questions and we needed to be able to answer them, and they did…we had a lot of ´Hermana did Jesus really die like this´. We did our homework as well and watched the Passion of the Christ and read some of the passages in the bible about his prosecution and ressurection!

On Jueves Santo we had our first Misa de Pascua, which was three hours long! Hugo explained a lot about the last supper, how Jesus went to pray in the Olive garden, was betrayed by Judas and taken away by the guards. Definately too much kneeling though!
Then on Viernes Santo we had two hours of readings from the bible and prayer in the church. I had to go up to the front and read one of the passages from the bible! It was infront of roughly 350 people, behind a pew, in Spanish and everything, I was very nervous. This was the day that Jesus died, so we were told to wear dark colors in mourning and there was a more serious atmosphere. Ciudad also attempted, and failed, to keep the boys in silence for the whole day and at lunch though we all had a tiny amount of food. Then after church, they reinacted Vía Cruz y el doce estaciones de la cruz. San Francisco did the acting, and each pabellón was in charge of making an altar and preparing a prayer, and we all walked round Ciudad stopping at the altars to act out each station. Me, Evie and Amy were asked to play the lloraras crying of Jesus´ dead body!

San Francisco boys acting out the stations of the cross

 Saturday was another three hour long sesh at church. It started with everyone gathered outside around a bonfire and we gave each one of the boys a candle. Then we walked together into the church with our candles and singing. It was supposed to represent the upcoming ressurection of Christ and the return of light – hope, happiness and joy – spreading through the darkness. None of our boys sent the church up in flames either so that was a result! All us volunteers went up to the front with the offerings as well – wáter, candles, grapes, bread etc.

Sunday was the final celebration, and started with mass at 6am! It was a much happier day with people walking round and wishing ´felices pascuas´ and the cooks prepared a special breakfast. We had caldo de gallina with boiled egg, a chicken leg, bread and coffee. Then after we handed out little easter eggs to the boys, and took a picture of them all while they were still in the church best!

It was definately a bit different to how we´d normally ´celebrate´ Easter – in our house it´s just an extra day off work/school and eating an easter egg – but it´s an experience I won´t forget!

Felices Pascuas,
Moffy xxx

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Travelling with Momma!

There's something special about the change that happens in your relationships with your parents when you make the transition into being an adult. I feel lucky to have be able to have that with my Mum. We had an amazing time and saw some beautiful places in a beautiful country, but the best part of the trip for me was just chattin away, which we did plenty of! It was fun to show her around this country that I have grown to love and call home, and for her to meet my boys - who I'm pretty sure she wanted to take home with her. Also as much as I love my work, it was good to get out of my normal routine and do something completely different!

We started off in Barranco Lima and went for lunch with the other PT girls, which was really lovely. Managed to find a restaurant with a pretty little terrace, views of the sea and epic maracuya sours. We had a little wander around Barranco, and by the time we left to get on the night bus to Barranco she´d ticked cerviche and anticuchos off the list of typical Peruvian foods to eat.

Restaurant in Barranco

Bus was luxurious bed cama with all films and food and the like so I was happy as larry. Got off the bus though and we´d been wandering round the bus station for a good 15 minutes before I realised my bleach stained work trousers had ripped all along my arse from curling up on the seat haha. Anyway, we got a hotel, had a wander round Arequipa city centre and booked ourselves a two day Colca Canyon tour! Tour was amazing, all the landscapes around Arequipa are so beautiful and of course the deepest canyon in the world was pretty cool as well. To top it off we saw condors at the mirador! Someone can tell you they´re the second biggest bird in the world, but that can´t prepare you for just how fucking HUGE they are. Managed to meet up with Lauren as well, so surreal to meet up with her in Peru still, but awesome. And we went round the Monastaria Santa Catalina which is this convent that used to have around 200 ´hedonistic nuns´ and we were lead round by a madwoman by candle light.

In Monastaria Santa Catalina - mad woman insisted on taking a picture 

On Colca Canyon Tour

Next on the list was Cuzco. We didn´t have much time in the city because we had our trek booked, but enough to get a feel for it. Definately want to go back! We did the Santa Theresa trek up to Machu Pichu which was 5 D/4 N and we were almost in a private group. March is the end of rainy season, but parts were still closed off because of landslides and it´s a less popular time to go. So it was just us and another couple, and they only joined up that day! Also because it was still so rainy we were told to buy ponchos because even gortex waterproofs don´t always work. There was lots of rain and lots of mud, which was nice seen as I live in a dessert! We did a fair few river crossings and hopping over landslides that were blocking the path. One of them was still sliding and big rocks were falling off the edge into the river below so we had to wait an hourish to cross. Loved the excitement. I think the trek was the right amount of a challenge for me and Mum as well although the other couple we were with were really fit and the pace pushed us to the limit at times. Especially because there were so many steep parts - uphill and downhill! On the last day we were at the front with the head chef who was also trained as a guide and he would just leg it round the mountains/jungley hills at high speed in sandles made of old tires and not blink. We were fed up of steep downhill and wanted it over so we pretty much raced/hobbled/slid down the last stretch for a couple hours - hillarious. Then after the trek we had a night in Aguas Calientes and I kid you not I have never been so thankful for a hot shower. Amazing.

First breakfast on the trek

On the trek

Mum lookin fly in her poncho

Then the next morning we went to Machu Pichu! I went before when I did World Challenge, but this time was somehow very different. When we arrived there was this heavy fog that hid it all from sight, but slowly lifted as the day went on and it got really sunny. The guide we had for the trek also gave us a guided tour of Machu Pichu. He was very honest and said that no one really knows exactly why Machu Pichu was built, but that there are lots of credible theories backed up with evidence. The theory he believed was most credible was that it was built as a some kind of University - or place of knowledge. The Incas were so successful in their empire because when they took control of an area they also looked at what knowledge and wisdom the people had that could be useful to them. Machu Pichu could have been a place to bring all that knowledge together and for further study. As we were going round you could hear people talking about all kinds of theories. Another popular one was that it was some kind of holiday resort for the king, but we didn´t think much of that one because there was no grand palace. Theories aside, Machu Pichu is a stunning and breath taking place to see. A small hidden city built on the top of a jungley mountain.

We made our way back to Lima on a Sunday and Mum came to see Ciudad. She had the chance to meet my boys and Anita and Elisa then came to Mass and dinner. It was strange to have her enter my world here, but amazing at the same time. Then we spent our last day in Central Lima, went to Monastario San Francisco and just had a look around.

Project Trust spoke a lot about homesickness and it maybe being worse when you see your parents, but it was nothing like that for me. We had a great holiday and I left in a great mood because of it! I think that´s just something that´s very different for everyone.

Mucho Amor,
Moffy xxx

P.S. hope you enjoyed that one Grandad!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Madness and new faces

Once the boys got back, we had three weeks where they were off school to get them used to Ciudad, the routines, way of life here etc. Days started at half six and ended around eight at night with a half an hour break for a shower. I can honestly tell you me and Evie went crazy. Our brains stopped functioning properly and we went delirious. We literally sat around dreaming of the days when the boys would go to school and we´d only have to work a ten hour day. On the bright side, because the boys didn´t have school, we had more time for sillyness with them which is always nice!

We had a desperdida for Tania which was really nice, but also very sad. She played such a big part in Niño Jesus everyone was sad to see her go! But we got all the boys in their best, bought a piñata, party food and played loud music for the kids to dance to. Dead cute.

Boys being off school and it being summer also meant PISCINA TIME. Lots of fun, if a little crazy.

Daily naptime also made up for a lot of the crazyness! I think a lot of the time we needed it more than the boys!

We also managed to squeeze in another trip to Parque de las Aguas, which is always a good laugh.

On top of all this, we also got news that the two girls in Chiclayo would be moving down to Lima to work at our project! They were only allowed one hour a day of working and had been trying to get Project Trust to listen to them about what was going on since November. It wasn´t until they asked for a flight home that they really got any response. But, they´re here now and it´s great. Mine and Evie´s friendship group has doubled haha!

Moffy xxx

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Orientation and boys are back

Such a massive change going from the freedom of travelling back to Ciudad! Not even nessecarily in a bad way, but took some getting used to! The first week we had back was orientation - a week of information and training preparing staff for the year ahead. First couple of days were mostly team building activities that encouraged us to interact with staff from the other pabellones, which is nice because as I´ve said you can easily get caught in the bubble of your own pabellon. They taught us lots of games as well that we can pass on to the kids and things, and talked about how important play is for the kids. Bit like being back at training in Coll! We went over some dilemas we might face in the next year and discussed in groups how we could ressolve them. Some of the more experienced staff also shared some of the things they´ve learned and awkward or difficult situations they´ve been in over their time here. Then the last couple of days were about child rights, noticing and seeing kids if they´re suffering from problems in their homelife, and a presentation on child development! Was like being back in Y13 studying psychology, we even went over Bowlby and the effects of privation and deprivation! Although in Spanish it was a little more difficult.

During this week me and Eebs also spent a fair amount of time playing voleyball with the older boys that had stayed on to work and staff, which was fun, and a nice way to get to know them a bit better. We also discovered our love for Flor! She´s the hermana mayor in San Antonio at the moment, been here a ridiculous number of years, and just knows her shit. Evie ended up going to ask her advice about some of the problems she had in Sonrisa last year and she was really helpful. So because of their chat, Evie spoke to her hermanas and has managed to get more responsibilities, to be seen more as a tutura than just a volunteer, so she was pretty pleased with that. It made me realise how much I took that for granted in Niño Jesus. From when I started, me and Tania shared the responsibilities of a tutora, then when she got ill with Hepetitus B before christmas I took on the other half of the role.

Then on Saturday the boys were due to be back! Kids talk about the night before Christmas when they can´t sleep because they´re excited about all their presents, and I was literally like that. I was so excited to see my boys again I didn´t sleep till stupidly late. They all came in through the comedor to register with us, then we´d take them down to the pabellon to play. It was soo nice to see my old boys, and meet the new ones of course. We were due to have 33 this year, but on the first day only 19 turned up. Apparently this is normal, and over the first month back kids slowly dribble in. We had two or three kids that just cried all day for their Mum or Dad, which was a pain, but in fairness it´s young not to be with your parents. So we had until Sunday at 6 to get them into shape for Mass. Lots of practicing walking in a line, practicing sitting in silence for mealtimes, practicing kneeling down and saying ´Jesus Te Ador y Te Amo´ on the entrance to church. Ended up going smoothly except for Joseph running out to pee on the grass outside the church. At least it wasn´t in the church though eh!

Ooh also, we got a Peruvian volunteer that´s working in Niño Jesus until the end of March called Natalie and she´s really lovely. Also, the American girl, Amy, we´re living with has been put in Niño Jesus, so lots more help for now! Although because Anita will be so busy with the new boys shes said it´s my job to train them up.

Moffy xxx

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Bye bye Evie

Sooo me and Evie finally managed to make it back to Lima and we went to meet her parents! There´s something so strange about knowing eachother so well and not knowing much about eachothers friends or family so it was really nice to spend some time with them. We just went for a quick lunch and chat at our favourite La Lucha! Then she jetted off for a couple more weeks of travelling!

I got back to Ciudad and Evie and the boys weren´t here, the two things that keep me sane. Also, a new girl called Amy moved into our apartment and it was disgustingly dirty! I asked around and they were struggling to find work in the office for the volunteers that were here, so it was unlikely there was gonna be any for me. Had to find an escape route because there was still three weeks of time off. Hugo hadn´t made it completely clear that we would have six weeks off work after Christmas while the boys are on holidays, he made it sound like they needed our help in the office. So, for next years volunteers, your travelling time is six weeks at Christmas and two weeks in July, but they´re pretty flexible here so taking other time off is okay as long as you discuss it with him first. Anyway, I considered more travelling or a couple weeks working at a hostel, but decided to go with the hostel because its cheaper and managed to find work in Lima! So that was class and much better than sitting around at Ciudad doing nothing.

Moffy xxx

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Maracuya slushies, Montanita Tacos and PT girls reunite

Officially left Ciudad on Christmas day to start our travels - best present I could ever ask for! Went up to Pariwana for the night to meet Butt and Shanwan for a festive tipple. Then in the morning stumbled onto our bus to Trujillo! The bus was amazing, managed to get a bedcama and haven't felt that comfy in a long time. Basic plan was travel up the north coast of Peru and spend some time in Ecuador - so we did just that. In Trujillo and Chiclayo we did couch surfing, which ended up working really well and a lot cheaper! Its just like a website where people say if they have a room you can sleep in for free. The guy we stayed with in Trujillo actually lived in Huanchaco, which is like a beach town just outside of Trujillo, fucking stunning, loved that place, so that was a win. We ended up meeting up with the girls from Trujillo as well and got to visit their project! Its a bit further out of Trujillo so has a more rural and relaxed feel. I can't even describe how much different their project is! Also because they have such shorter working hours and live close to Huanchaco, they have a social life! I think after talking to all the other girls we've come to realise ours is like the odd one out, they're all pretty similar except Ciudad! In the beginning I found that really hard, because we had to make the adjustment from what we were expecting to the reality, but now we're more used to it I love our project. Yes it pisses me off reguarly of course, but it's our home.

We only spent one night in Chiclayo, just outside of it in a town called Lambayeque with a girl and her massive family. She lived in a rougher part, not like the shanty towns or anything, but like no propper roads, corregated iron roof type thing. One of the good things about doing couch surfing was getting to spend time with local Peruvian people that are outside Ciudad. It sounds stupid but because we live and work in such a heavily Catholic place, where all the people are reserved, moral, and without sounding mean, not that fun, I just thought that was how all Peruvian people are. Then when we left Ciudad we realised it's just like any other place, where there are all different types of people. Not everyone outside Ciudads extremely Catholic, most people are, but just like go to church on a Sunday types not like twice daily church types.

And then to Mancora! We managed to organise it so all the PT girls were together for new year and it was absoloutely epic. Lovely to all be together and talk about our projects, the good things and bad things we've experienced so far this year. Also just to generally have a good time without having to be a responsible example was a much needed break! Loki also introduced me to the best hangover cure - a maracuya slushy and a jump in the pool. You wouldn't think it, but it saved some of us at our lowest moments. We said our goodbyes to some of the vols and headed up to Montanita in Ecuador with Trujillo and Pucallpa girls. I loved Montanita, it had loads more character than Mancora, which was mostly just gringos. It was like a hippyish surfer town with loads of tiki buildings and hammocks. Also it had cocktail street! At night the locals set up stalls all down the sides of the road and made cocktails with fresh fruit and blasted music out. On one of the nights a band set up camp as well, and it just meant that everyone was just talking and dancing in the street. Not forgetting the epic Montañita tacos either. Loved it.

Next was Quito, the capital of Ecuador. All the bus rides round Ecuador and Peru are pretty, but the journey from Guyaquill to Quito was absoloutely stunning. We only spent a couple of days there, but it was such a beautiful city. It's massive, but surrounded by tall forresty mountains so it kind of felt like a small town at the same time. We had a wander round the Old Town which was really pretty and colonial, and went into some of the churches, one of them decorated almost completely in gold. And we made the journey just outside to stand on the equator! Although apparently it isn´t technically the equator, but I was happy either way.

After Quito we headed down to Baños, south of Quito. Its a tiny little pueblo stuck in a valley just on the edge of the rainforest so surrounded by lots of green and waterfalls. Of the whole trip, I think Baños was my favourite place! First full day we had there we hired some bikes and set off on the Avenida de Las Cascadas with Wendy and Frances. Managed to cycle for 20 km without dying so was pretty impressed with that. Had a little hiccup in the beginning when we made a wrong turn and were climbing up an effectively verticle hill wondering why we´d bothered with the whole thing, but a nice old Lorry driver told us where we´d gone wrong and after that it was pretty flat. I´m not that into biking but it was definately worth the effort to go. You´re cycling towards the jungle on the way to Puyo, so the further you go, the more rural and green it gets and all along the way there´s loads of waterfalls. We had a stop off at one of them for our picnic and hopped on the cable car to get a closer look. Lovely day!
We were pretty sure four of the other PT girls were in Baños at the same time, but couldn´t get an exact location on them. Managed to stumble upon them a few days in and it turns out they´d been living it up with Jungle Jim and Mogli in the selva for three days! So we dragged Harriet along for some white water rafting the next day and almost drowned her, oops. We spent the nights going out down the strip of clubs they had, which much to our shock all closed at 2am. The police would drive round after that trying to round up troops into their beds, which was always pretty funny. Evie and Frances managed to pluck up the balls to do a bridge jump - I didn´t. But, had my first ever driving experience in a buggy, in Ecuador, on windy mountain roads with lots of lorrys and trucks. Shat myself for the first fifteen minutes, but once I got into it I loved it.

There´s just something about travelling and the freedom of it, that you can go where you want and do what you want that I´ve well and truely fallen in love with. Can´t wait for more!

Moffy xxx