Today was my first trip to Pamplona, one of the poor areas of Lima that is in a district called San Juan de Miraflores. I am going to be doing the majority of my required volunteering for IFSA-Butler there. It is a good 90 minutes south of where I live, but no worries.. combis take you there! So two combis and 90 minutes after leaving my house I arrived in Pamplona Alta.
Words can’t sufficiently describe Pamplona Alta. I realized that I had entered into how “the others” live in Peru. There is little water, little electricity (only the lucky ones here have it), and no trash system. The trash is just thrown out into the street.
This is where the girls live that I worked with on Sunday. (Sunday I went to the headquarters of the NGO I am working with, which is called Casa de Panchita. The girls were brought over to have a day of fun and learning, and to have a break from everyday life) We went around to some of their houses today to speak with their moms about what is going on at home, and what we had noticed.
One house, one girl, in particular has stuck with me today. Her name is Luz, which means light in Spanish. At thirteen years old she has a 20 year old boyfriend, goes out to clubs at night, and drinks. We stopped by her house to see her mom today, and I was taken aback. Her house was by far the poorest one we saw all day. It is constructed with four wooden posts for supports and plastic sheets for walls and ceiling. The floor is dirt. There is no bathroom, no water, no electricity. Five people live in this home that is smaller than my bedroom in the states.
In speaking to her mother, who was probably 28.. tops.. I learned that Luz is responsible for cleaning the house, watching her younger siblings, and cooking. This is in addition to going to school in the morning. Her parents don’t have the time or the energy to look after her or give her the attention that she so desperately needs.
It’s situations like these that makes me wonder how it could possibly get better, how these girls can get out of the situation they were born into when they have no support at home. I am so incredibly grateful that I have what I have.
Each Thursday the woman I went with today goes around and talks to the parents about how their family is, if they need anything, and how they can get support. That is at least a step in the right direction. From now on, on Thursdays I will be going back to Pamplona Alta, but I will be going back to be with the girls. I am going to be going with a psychologist who goes around to the different colegios (schools) and talks with the girls that are required to work outside the home.
I think it will be a good experience and will also help me get to learn how the girls view their situation and their lives. I’m excited to get to know them and their families. Saturday I will be going back to Pamplona where I will be helping the girls do their homework. I hope I know how to do it still!
I am so glad that I chose to come down to Peru with IFSA-Butler. This volunteering requirement is for our Peruvian Social Reality course and I absolutely love it. I can’t think of anything I would rather do than volunteer work, and IFSA-Butler makes it really easy to set up opportunities for volunteering.