Friday, August 26, 2011
Day 2 - Welcome to Los Cipreses, Lima, Peru - Thursday
After our games, we met with the head of FH in Peru and the head of FH in Lima. They welcomed us and told us a little bit about their mission. We then headed out to Los Cipreses to a welcome ceremony in the community. (We must have had lunch but I have no idea where we ate or what.)
San Juan de Lurigancho. There are approximately 1 million people in this region in Lima. It's one of the largest urban neighborhoods in the world. It was formed when people fled out of the highlands during guerrilla warfare there in the 1980s. People moved in so quickly that there wasn't time to plan or construct an infrastructure. People just built "houses" where ever they could find a spot. Most of the people lack running water and basic necessities in these areas.
When we arrived in the community, the kids swarmed the van. I was prepared for a mass-chaos situation like we usually faced in the work camps in Baja. I was shocked when the kids just wanted to welcome us. We each got hugged and kissed as we got off the bus. Not once during the week did anyone ask me for something or try to get into my pockets. They were just excited that we came to visit. They wanted nothing from us but some time and attention---and to take about a billion pictures.
You can read Jenna's version of the story here. Ashley is a beautiful little girl with limited speech but tons of personality. Her parents continue to visit doctor after doctor to get a diagnosis for their precious child. When we first arrived, they were very quiet but after a few minutes, they opened up and told us their story. We sat with them for 2 hours while they went through details of therapies, doctors, schools, and family rejection. They told us how they feel awkward and unaccepted in the community. I began to realize why we were there. We were there to listen. I'm pretty sure this was one of the first (if not the first) time someone had sat and listened to their entire story. (After all, how often do people sit and listen to someone talk for 2 hours.)
By the time we made the hike down the hillside in the dark, we were all ready to head back to the hotel. We stopped for a light dinner at a local restaurant and then, once again, crawled off to our beds and collapsed from another long day.