So..starting from the week after Lozza left. That week all the boys were off school - normally they go from 8 - 1 - so our working week was a bit longer because we weren't having official breaks. Except that on Monday we went to go and pick up a package in Lindsay after morning cleaning which is about an hour or two each way depending on traffic, so we ended up missing lunch at Ciudad. We popped into a little street cafe on the way home and both had Cerviche. So the next day at morning cleaning I was feeling a bit strange, but that day Nino Jesus went on a Paseo to a park about a mile down the road so we went on our way. A combi drove past Ciudad when we were setting off, which turned out to be empty. Anita pulled out the poor and helpless kids card and we ended up paying 5 soles for us all to get there - that's 30 of us all together. It got to about lunch time though and I felt fucking awful, so ended up going back to the apartment to die. I was pretty gutted because most of the time the boys are just stuck at Ciudad and going outside even Nino Jesus is a big adventure for them and they were really excited! For the best though because I had food poisoning. About 12 hours later Evie came back from work with the same symptoms as me and we died in the apartment together for a few days. I felt really awful though, I think that was my lowest point I've had so far. It's just like I wasn't even holding down water for a while, and you don't have normal home comforts here like you do at home. Especially being ill with a lot of time just sitting around and not doing much, I ended up thinking a lot about my Dad's death in March, so that was a really hard couple of days for me. It was all okay in the end though, and after I recovered I felt much stronger and generally a lot better about things! That weekend the American volunteers went on a religious retreat and left their keys to their apartment so we could use their cooking stuff. We were still recovering and didn't have much energy so just ended up just staying in with Laura and Christoff and had Pizza, Sangria and a good ol game of monopoly - in spanish!
It was really nice to be back at work the next week though, I'd really missed my little boys! In my break as well Hugo called me into his office because he had a package from Mum and a letter from PT. It's amazing how much a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk and a handful of Roses can bring! It's been really nice getting letters from PT as well! They're just kind of like an update of things at home and some stories from other volunteers that are abroad now. There was the top five songs in the charts, some of the news headlines, some bits about 'life on Coll' which all sound a bit silly, but it's quite nice to hear about boring home stuff. It's also a reminder that nothings really going to have changed at home, it's easy to start thinking everyone's going to change and it'll all be different when you get back.
The next Sunday was Anniversario! Fifty something years since Ciudad was started by Padre Illuminati so we put on a gret big show and a dance and invited lots of people. Most of the Pabellons did dances, Son Risa and San Antonio did traditional peruvian dances i.e. lots of stomping and hitting the floor with sticks. It was good though, they were all very cute! Nino Jesus did a dance too with Tanya, and at the end Emmerson did a little freestyle solo and it was just the best and cutest thing ever. Then at the end we had our volunteers act! We did kind of a copy of that famous Glee song, then Ryan, Michael and Christoff did an absoloutely priceless rendition of the single girls dance and finally an 'interpretive dance' to the Titanic song. At the end Anderson came hurtling into the middle of the stage shouting 'Hermana Hannah muy bien Hermana Hannah' and grabbed onto my legs. He's such a sweet little boy, I don't know how I'm going to say bye to him at all.
|Tania with the boys at Anniversario|
Me and Evie have both been thinking a lot about the project we're at, because it's a lot different to how we originally thought it would be. It's not nessecarily been a bad thing that it's been different, we just had to make the adjustment. First of all, it isn't an orphanage, it's a care home for boys. To stay here the boys have to be brought by a family member or God parent. One of the aims here is to work with the families to give the boys a better life. While we're caring for the boys, Ciudad trys to improve the family situation i.e. talking through issues with parents, helping find work, rehoming etc. Once a fortnight the boys go on Salida to see their families for a night and then the weekend inbetween, the families can come and visit the boys here. Sometimes it can be really sad seeing the boys saying goodbye to their families - they'll run away and hide because they don't want to come back. Not because it's horrid or anything, they just want to live at home with their parents.
Secondly, it is very religious. It's religious to the point that you can't escape it. We pray in the morning, afternoon, evening, before meals, after meals. They're told to say Gracias Jesus to everything instead of thanking the person. They pray at school, their school books all have religious context. The pabellons are decorated with religious posters and have religious messages on the walls. We go to Alabanza for half an hour Mon - Thur for half an hour then on Sunday for an hour. The hermanas and other volunteers also go to Laudes every morning for an hour - I went for about the first month then sacked it off! Alabanza I don't mind because it's just really a sing and a dance with the boys and it's a bit daft so it's okay. I can now recite the 'Our Father' prayer in spanish but don't know the enlgish one! To be honest the religion doesn't normally even bother me most of the time, it's just a bit much and sometimes I feel like I want a break from it all - especially when we're reminded how deep their faith is and how much it governs their life. They're so completely sure that God exists that sometimes it makes me wonder if I'm the one that's got it all wrong. I don't know what I would do without Evie sometimes just to keep me sane! It's catholic conservatism at its worst.
A few little stories from November... After lunch the other day we asked Hermana Jacky for an extra box of helados for the boys as well and put the music on really loud. They were all just dancing outside in the sunshine eating icecreams and laughing and it was really nice. Then after that we did races with the boys up to the front door and back which was really cute too! Just a nice and normal day but it was really lovely.
About a week later we went on a couple of mini paseos with the boys as well! First we went to the rocky bit of land accross the road to make houses out of rocks. Anita put the boys into groups of two and gave them half an hour to make their best houses they could. Then we walked round and they explained what was where - almost all of them put little rocks in for the hermanas as well - and the best three got biscuits. Then we did a grand tour of Ciudad, through the pig and chicken farm, and then to the big veg patch bit and we were telling the boys what all the veg were. They couldn't believe how different carrots looked when they're in the ground and kept asking where the orange bit was! Even though it was only in ciudad it was really nice to get out of Nino Jesus with the boys! Sometimes it can be frustrating how structured and routiney it is here.
|On the Paseo around Ciudad|
On the 12th of November we had Noche De Talentos! Which is an anual event set up by the American Cap Corp volunteers. We spent the day time helping them a bit, but they mostly had it covered so there wasn't much to do. We got to make lanterns out of milk tins, rags and lamp oil though which was fun! Then in the evening me and Evie were in charge of making sure the next three acts were backstage ready to go on, which meant we were just running around and looking for them and trying to keep them waiting. The older boys especially were sometimes hard to find because they kept running off to practice! Some of the acts were actually really good. Most of the boys who sang, not so much, but there was a skit called El Padre y Sus Hijos which was really funny, some good dances and a good drama act as well, which I was in! It was all about how the devil will try and tempt you into drinking, having sex, taking drugs etc but you should ignore him.
|Anita with the boys at Noche De Talentos|
As part of Ciudad's attempts to raise money every year they make and sell about 30,000 Christmas panetone. Soo as we've started the run up to Christmas, panetone season has also begun. We worked straight through three of our breaks a couple of weeks ago helping with the packaging because we had an order of 8,000 to send out!
One of the biggest things that happened in November though was Hepetitus A! Luckily I've had the vaccination for it, but it's a disease that affects the liver and can keep you ill for weeks or months. It started out with Tania, Cesar and Antonio having it, who have mostly recovered now, but Diego, Johan and Jorge are out now too. Tanias been off work now for around three weeks, which had meant I've been doing double the cleaning and am in charge of making sure the four year olds finish their homework. I'm getting used to it now though so it's going to be weird when she gets back, but I suppose that's good because she's leaving after christmas and I'll have to do that work then anyway. Although on the plus side because the boys may or may not be contagious and need to rest up, we haven't gone to Alabanza for the past three weeks either!
Travelling is coming up so soon now as well I can't wait! We're starting on Christmas day so it's been a countdown to travelling instead of Christmas this year! We're going North up the coast of Peru to meet all the girls at Mancora for new year then up to Ecuador to change over our visas and things. Although we've left it a bit late booking buses so fingers crossed we manage to get everywhere we'd hoped!
Haven't even finished writing up to date yet! Apologies for it being so long!
Lots of love to you all,