Helping at Peru’s Largest Children’s Home
Reflections by Jody, on volunteering at PPA, Peru’s largest children’s home.
Today was our first official day on the job at PPA (Puericultorio Perez Aranibar) for my husband David and me – and the rest of our team. Personally, the enormity of the facility itself, coupled with the beautiful architecture and the state of disrepair was somewhat overwhelming. The haunting beauty of PPA reminds me of a Spanish Colonial movie set locked in a time warp with The Shining. I struggle to understand how this campus was allowed to deteriorate to such a degree – but then again, this is South America, a government-funded children’s home, and there is a LOT I don’t understand!
All day I continued to imagine PPA in its early days with 1, 200 children fortunate enough to be cared for in such a lovely environment. The children ARE being cared for by lovely, dedicated people. David and I both marveled at how much was being accomplished with such meager resources.
We met with the social workers and the sisters and brothers who oversee the 200 children in residence. They explained, with our team leader Maru translating, the difficulties of running the day-to-day operations, as well as the circumstances of where the kids come from and how they end up at PPA. Amazing people doing incredible work! I imagine they get little compensation other than personal satisfaction for their efforts.
The afternoon assignment was enabling resident siblings to spend time and play together. A little girl named Jasmine was so excited to engaged with her older brothers, but like kids everywhere, the brothers may not have been that interested in their little sister! But at the end of the afternoon, they appeared to share a bond that no “ginormous” campus could deny. It was so rewarding to facilitate these reunions!
“If my being there helped a little girl reconnect with the brothers she doesn’t get to see very often, then it was a good day!”
At the end of day 1, we left tired, hungry, and with a hundred thoughts racing through our minds. Our eyes and our hearts have been opened, and we’re ready for service assignments tomorrow. First, we’ll shop for supplies and prepare our donations. I think I’ll get to play with the babies at some point while David works in the kitchen. No doubt it will be a busy day so I’d best get some sleep! Hasta mañana!
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