Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Que suenes con los angelitos.

This was actually one of the first phrases I learned this morning after getting off the airplane in Arequipa. I don't remember why it came up at lunch with Father Alex, Margaret, Steve, and Lauren (the three other volunteers staying at the Volunteer House), but then I heard it again just now after mass from four little girls who came up and sat between Steve, Lauren and I and held our hands. It means literally, "may you dream with the angels" and is a way of saying "sweet dreams." (The view from the front of the Volunteer House.)

This afternoon I spent some time meeting some of the ladies who knit and are paid through the Mision. Maria, the Mision's social worker, took Margaret (a public health PhD candidate doing field work here) and Lauren (a nursing student taking 6 months off between schools and volunteering here) up to where one group of ladies were knitting. It was further up the mountain from the Volunteer House and is made up of little communities of plots of land that people mark out for themselves and build rough stone structures upon (this picture is looking up the hill from the volunteer house into those communities). Margaret told me later that basically if you build upon land that isn't claimed, then after some improvements you've made to it, you can go and claim it as yours from the government. Once there is some infrastructure to the whole community, they elect leaders and become a sector. As we heard from the ladies there, though, many of them do not have running water or electricity. The house we sat in with probably 15 women or so was around 15 ft by 10 ft with one bed along one side and a bench on the other.

After meeting them and stuttering through my own introduction (mostly through the help of Lauren - pictured left with Lily), we left and went back down to the compound that holds the knitting facility, the church, and the volunteer house. There, we met with more of the ladies - it is amazing how fast they can knit. Just in the space we were there, I saw a pair of mittens created. Father Alex promised that he would sit with us so that we could hear their stories of why they came down to the city from the mountain villages - how terrorism left many of them husbandless, homeless, and childless - without causing them too much pain in retelling it to us.

It's hard to have sweet dreams while during the day you've seen the harsh reality that these women and families are living in. Yet, as the little loving girls taught me at Mass tonight, there is a lot of hope where there is love.

Thank you to all of you who were keeping me in your thoughts and prayers - my day & night of traveling went extremely well: all connections easily made, got through customs with a suitcase full of donated medical supplies (thank you Esther Petrie!) for the medical clinic here, and smooth flights.

Lauren with the church in the background - the Volunteer House is just behind that. Then if you turned around around after taking that picture you'd see the mural on the wall of the knitting ladies' facility.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post! Can't wait to see some of the knitters and their work.