Another week has flown by. Today in itself was busy for a Sunday, with a morning visit to Puerto Éten (Éten Port, a tranquil beach town about 30 minutes away) and a 3.5 hour chamber orchestra rehearsal this afternoon. I just completed my Sunday night routine of checking my progress based on all the things written in my agenda (yikes!). A long Project Chiclayo staff meeting yesterday morning allowed for a discussion about the Chalice visit and some preliminary planning for upcoming events such as ‘El Día del Juego‘ (Day of the toy or playing) and Christmas outings and meals for Project Chiclayo participants and their families, etc. In addition to my regular workshops, I now have quite enough to keep busy for the next six weeks, including offering two three-week series of art workshops for kids from two city districts, La Victoria and José Leonardo Ortíz and improving the ‘travelling suitcase’ library with funds from the Chalice Gift Catalogue, two activities I am thrilled about.
The past two weeks have involved the creation of over 370 Christmas cards, one by each sponsored child or adolescent in Project Chiclayo. Each card is original, although there is a basic layout that most are following (just a simple ‘frame’ on the front of the card that features the student’s drawing). Inside the card, a unique message is written to the sponsor parents; as I have now translated over 60 cards to English (a small paper will be glued on the back of each card with the translation), I have come across some very touching correspondence between sponsor children and their respective sponsors or sponsor families. Some children have mentioned how they are excelling in school and have been elected as class ‘prefects’ or ‘police’; others, how they are fascinated by the dancing and music skills they are learning in Project Chiclayo workshops. One girl mentioned that she has two puppies which are very playful; another mentioned that she won a chess tournament at school; and a boy mentioned that his family recently added a second floor to his small brick home. Many children either thanked their sponsor for a photo of their family that they had sent, or asked for their sponsors to please send them one.
Every single card is filled with love, gratitude and wishes for peace and love this Christmas. Many ‘besos‘ and ‘abrazos‘ (kisses and hugs) were written in each and it is touching to feel the care that sponsors and their sponsor children seem to have for one another, even though they do not speak the same language and will probably never meet in person.
Adolescents in Raimondi beginning their Christmas card creation.
We encourage drawings that represent the realities of Christmas in Chiclayo (Peruvian customs including dress, food and dances), and we try to discourage drawings that do not represent Christmas here (snow men! or pine trees, which can be substituted for trees that do grow here) or the consumerism that Christmas seems to have become (gifts, Santa Claus), but I also did not want to limit the creative instincts of the young artists. Hence the drawing featured above, an eight year old’s half-completed original drawing (in La Ladrillera) of a Santa’s reindeer.
The months are definitely passing; as of two weeks ago in La Ladrillera, water filled the irrigation drains for the first time in months. This means rice will soon be planted. Fields were also being burned in preparation for planting.
I did not celebrate Halloween, but instead we had a big party for my host mother’s birthday. The house was filled with the sounds of dance music (cumbia and salsa, as well as Peruvian huayno songs from the mountainous regions) and a good time was seemingly had by the forty some-odd attendees. Many of my host families’ friends were curious about who I am and I was invited to dance (taught how to dance) many different kinds of dances; I found the huayno the most challenging as it involves a lot of ‘hopping’. That night and during the whole week I enjoyed spending time with the host sister I had not yet met since my arrival, Sandra, who lives in Lima and had come home to spend time with the family.
Did I mention that food was also in great abundance at the birthday bash? (the pot was only for cooking meat–you should have seen the quantity of rice and potato salad!).
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I will post pictures of today’s visit to the coast soon,
but here are a few more pictures from MaryAnne’s visit in Chiclayo, including a visit to Pimentel beach (below), followed by an unforgettable visit to La Ladrillera, where we spent time with Ricardo and his family, plus their neighbours who I know well from the Project Chiclayo programs. We were lucky to meet his doves, birds he gave to MaryAnne back in February, but which he is taking care of at his home since MaryAnne cannot bring them to Canada.
Another example of how those people who are very poor (in material terms) will share anything they have with others, especially guests to their homes (making them pretty rich as human beings).
Paradise in Pimentel.
Ricardo is the boy with the hat on and I’ve mentioned him before
because he strikes me as an incredible person: selfless, caring and helpful.