*note to my faithful readers: sorry this is late. I was sure I had already posted it!! :)
March 4, 2011
This is an ode to my mom. "Because Nice Matters" is her favorite saying and the older I get the more I realize just how true and valuable that little piece of advice is.
One thing about people here is they have no shame about asking for money- especially if you are American (or any sort of white-looking). Sometimes that upsets me because i really don't want to be taken advantage of. I'm very willing to help, but sometimes the situations are tough. Well, today there was a mom who came in with her 2 girls. The mom told us that she didn't have enough money to buy uniforms for her girls and they were starting school on Monday. She told us that for the whole uniform (skirt, shirt, shoes, and socks) it was going to be more than 50 soles per girl. We were all shocked at that price, so we made a deal with her. We asked for the sizes of each girl and we told her that since we were going to Pucallpa that afternoon anyway then we would just look for uniforms and they could come pick them up on Sunday. In Pucallpa, with the help of our friend Wendy, we found uniforms for WAY cheaper than we thought it was going to be. We found a store where it was only 14 soles for the skirts, 4 for the shirts, 1.50 for the socks and 10-15 for the shoes. That means it was only 66 soles for both girls! That's only about 25 dollars. I was so excited to find everything they needed and at such a good price. I'm so glad we could help.
Our other "project" is our neighbors the Rivas-Rios kids... There are 6 of them in the family- Diana, Jack, Raquel, Abel, Valentin, and Luanna. Home life is anything but spectacular and they spend A LOT of time at the clinic. At times it feels like we are running a daycare instead of a clinic. Their clothes are always tattered and dirty, sometimes the youngest runs around without pants on... They have really grown attatched to the 3 of us girls and us to them as well. Even though sometimes it's irritating to have them around all the time, we can't help but love them. Their dad drinks a lot and usually they have no money to buy food because of that. Both parents are abusive to the kids, and dad is not too nice to mom... Like I siad, not a spectacular situation. Well, they needed notebooks and pencils for school and their mom didn't have any money to buy them what they needed. Lauren, Steph, and I decided that we would help them but only if they would help us. (We had to teach a little life lesson too because that doesn't happen from mom and dad). The deal was they had to come sweep the from room of the clinic everyday for a week and then we would buy them notebooks for school. They did a pretty good job, the brooms are still taller than most of them so we had to go behind them and sweep again; but the point was they were learning to work for their things. We went to town and bought them their things and when we took it to them they were SO excited. Diana, the oldest, almost started crying. It broke my heart. I was so happy that we could help. Diana has so much responsibility because she's the oldest and acts as the mom a lot of the time. I just want her to feel like a kid and feel taken care of and I think in that moment she felt cared for. Oh, I just love her.
Tonight we saw our friends Graciela and her daughter Valentina, and Gino. They work in Pucallpa selling handmade jewelry on the street. We met Gino in October and see him every now and then when we're in town. He's a really awesome guy. He has long hair and super cool earrings and he always wears traditional clothes and lots of jewelry. He's super down to earth and just so cool. haha. You really have to meet him to get it. Graciela is also a way cool lady. She was the one who did the "trenzas" (braids) that are in mine and Stephanie's hair. We see her every week or so when we're in town and just stop and chat with her. Her daughter Valentina is quite the character. She loves attention and is just silly. She is usually dirty and you can tell what she ate last because it's all over her face and clothes. But she is precious. Anyhow, tonight we invited them to come eat with us and we paid the bill for everyone. It was a fun dinner, just chill. The conversation and company were very pleasant and I think it made everyone's day a little bit better.
It's stuff like this that I am going to miss about Peru. Everyone keeps to themselves so much at home- I mean I can't say I've met any friends on the street corner and then met up with them for dinner. I guess that's something I've learned here and I want to practice more at home. It's so easy to talk to people here- and I really don't think it's any different at home. Someone just has to initiate it. I'm going to be that someone. I started trying to do that last year- just being really nice to cashiers, or striking up a conversation with the person in line wtih me, or just smiling at random people. It's fun to make peoples' days better. And I really think that is one of the best ways to show Jesus' love. People remember how you treat them. It's those little things that can make a huge difference in someone's life.
Because Nice MATTERS. Thanks, Mom. :)