I have returned to the southern homeland of Lima, but my month in Trujillo was really great. As you may know, I was there for a month working as an intern with Inca Link (incalink.net), an organization that works to link North Americans and South Americans through service and the love of Jesus.
In Trujillo, Inca Link has three different ministries going. The albergue, or children’s home, is under construction but will soon be home to 70+ kids who are either orphans or from poor families. At the children’s home they’ll learn a trade (sewing, construction etc) in order to help them get a job once they’re old enough. I helped sweep and clean some of the walls in the children’s home to prep for painting, but I didn’t spend a ton of time there.
Another ministry is the guarderia, translated daycare, but it’s more of an after-school program. There are around 80 kids that go to the guarderia, ranging from ages 3 to 15, all sponsored by North Americans. The guarderia is three days a week, including lunch and teaching separated by age groups.
The first couple weeks I helped out with the younger kids and played with them and braided the girls’ hair. They quite enjoyed feeling pampered, check out the picture of all of them cramming to see themselves in the mirror.
The last two weeks I was there, another intern, Ashley and I started teaching English to the two older groups. While it’s frustrating that they don’t listen very well, many of them seem to be genuinely interested in learning English and it makes me smile hearing them say English phrases such as, “I am from Peru.” Ashley will continue teaching English, as she’ll be with Inca Link for a year.
Another thing Ashley and I did for the daycare was bring organization to the donation room. It was the definition of chaos with toothpaste, notebooks, markers, stuffed animals and clothes in random bags and boxes just packed into the room. I definitely think the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” applied to this room as the door stayed tightly closed. It seemed that it had gotten so bad that no one wanted to take on the challenge of organizing it, but for Ashley and I, there was nothing we wanted to do more. We spent four half-days separating the donations into categories and getting shelves and boxes to help organize it. I labeled everything in Spanish and English so both the natives and the missionaries would know what goes where. Now I just hope it stays the way we left it!
Another ministry is at the city’s garbage dump, which is on the smelly outskirts of town, an area where the locals avoid, and rightfully so. But once you got past the smell and sight of tons of garbage, you saw the people that worked and lived there and it broke my heart to see the conditions that people worked and lived in.
The programmed ministry is on Saturdays, where a group of people teach the kids and play games with them, much like a Sunday school class. This was my favorite ministry as the kids take joy in simple things, such as taking pictures with my camera or playing soccer with us gringos. When I talk about the kids at the garbage dump, they don’t actually live in the dump, but rather alongside it (not much better than living in it to be honest). Many of their parents work in the dump as the city’s recycling: taking out glass, plastic, and cardboard in order to make some money. One day, after getting permission from the city, we North American missionaries went into the dump. We didn’t really have an agenda, it was more to see it and talk with the people about their experiences. It was definitely nothing like I’ve ever seen before as the stench of garbage was overwhelming and there were people of all ages, dirty from head to toe with hopeless eyes digging through everyone’s trash. After walking around for a bit, I got the chance to talk to a lady about 50 years old. She poured out her life story to me about how her son is an alcoholic and how it’s tearing apart their family. I prayed for her that God would give her peace and that her son would be able to get help. She is also a Christian so we were able to bond over the fact that our God is a God of joy and peace. She told me she felt much more happy and content after talking to me and I gave her a big hug and kiss on the cheek goodbye. I was delighted to have the opportunity to pray for her and yet I was distressed over the fact that there are so many people who work in the dump and are suffering hardship.
While I had many other experiences during my internship in Trujillo, such as singing Dancing Queen at Karaoke or eating ice cream on the beach, this is the moment that I will never forget. I’ve realized that life is about relationships and despite supposed cultural differences or socially created ladders, “We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same” –Anne Frank