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Miraflores is a lovely place with green grass, colorful flowers, and fountains gracing the center of many chaotic traffic circles. I barely notice the standard gray sky covering Lima’s limits as we head a little northeast of the butterfly district, but the further we ride and close in on our destination the more I start to miss the sun. The streets turn from concrete to mud and the mood changes as I look around and begin to understand the term “Third World.” With a heavy heart, I follow my team up the concrete steps while passing the plywood shacks supported by sand, (or if they’re lucky), old tires, to find my first ray of sunshine all morning. It appears in the form of the president of the Alto Progreso neighborhood residing in the district of Pamplona, Lima. With her warm smile and contagious laugh, my heart is immediately lifted as I find myself proud to stand in their shiny new soup kitchen, and excited to see their hand-carved soccer field.

These are proud people, as they should be for all their hard work and desire to learn innovative ways to better their community. They are excited to show us around and as Edith translates for them their plans to better their future, I am excited for them. I no longer see only garbage and shacks, I no longer hear only loud horns and roosters crowing, I now see potential and effort as I listen to people laughing with pride and light hearts.

As I sit here reflecting hours later, I still marvel at their soccer field, hand-carved without machines by the people of the community, every Sunday for ten years. As little as they have for any sort of materials, they make up for it with dedication, hard work, and support for their community. It’s as Edith said, that they know that anytime their things could all be gone and they are ready for that, they accept that because that’s not what’s important, family and community is. The phrase “Third World” comes to mind again and I see that as economically impoverished as Alto Progreso is, it is rich in other ways that many from our “First World” seem to have forgotten about.

Entry submitted by: Tehya G.

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