We apologize for not having pictures on the English version as it is very time consuming to download the pictures twice. Please refer to the French version to view the pictures. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause any of you.
IT ALL COMES TOGETHER
Much effort, hard work, lots of money, lots of needs ....
Is it worth it? Does it change anything? These are all questions that the members of the RRMRR and Sagrada Famillia groups as well as the people who support them financially or morally ask themselves from time to time .... and with good reason.
During the last weekend our group had the opportunity to live a unique experience which helped us to deepen our thinking about these questions.
The brief report that follows is an amalgam of the comments and thoughts of group members (who asked me to write this article on their behalf). Thanks to everyone for their contribution and for the photos.
GOING TO TOWN….TO A REAL BED .... AND A POOL… FOR ONLY $ 20 .... YEAHHH!
The official reason for our trip to the city (village) of Lunahuana was to deliver all the humanitarian supplies that we brought with us (about 1000 pounds of donations) to the orphanage named Nuestros Pequinos Hermanos (NPH). We were then going to have a guided tour of the orphanage and also meet the children. We knew that there were about 60 young people ranging in age from a few months old to 20 years old. The children are orphaned, abandoned, or from dysfunctional or abusive families. It was a nuance that many of us did not understand before our visit and that has given us a special understanding of the work of the NPH group.,
WE ARRIVE AT THE ORPHANAGE.
Not knowing exactly what to expect, we were still very surprised by the incredible reception at the home. Upon arriving, we were greeted by the group of children waving small Canadian flags and banners with special messages. Everyone had a beautiful smile.
Photo flag and banners
WE ARE HOME
When we approached them, they greeted us with open arms and very warm spontaneous embraces. All the older and younger children met with each of us in turn, wished us ¨Buenos tardes¨ (good afternoon) and huggede us. It was very special to be called ''tia¨ or tio'' (aunt or uncle).
WE EMPTY THE SUITCASES
We had many bags of supplies that the children insisted on helping us to carry. Some bags were as big as the kid who carried them ... (In fact, since we have arrived, we have all been impressed not only by the amount of work that these young people are willing to do with enthusiasm but as well by their great physical strength.)
photo of a young person with big bag
WHAT WILL WE FIND INSIDE?
The children were excited to see the bags full of supplies that we brought and I am certain that many of them would have liked to open them to see what was inside. However, discipline reigned and everything went in a very orderly fashion and without chaos. The bags were then transported to a storage room to be later distributed to children as required. We were asked not to give any items to individual children in order to avoid jealousy. This method of distributing material respects the basic principle that NPH is ''family'' and that family shares according to needs and in a fair manner.
Photo of the warehouse
VISITING THE SITE
We then make a tour of the site and buildings that are only a temporary lodging that is being rented. NPH leases these buildings that once served as a hotel. Children will be moved from this temporary location in Lunahuana to the new location in Canete. The children will move into the new buildings that we are currently helping to build. This move will give them access to a better school system; education is very important to the philosophy of the NPH group. It will also provide room for expansión.
WE GO TO OUR HOTEL ….AND WE MAKE AN IMPORTANT DECISION
PHOTO OF THE, HOTEL POOL ...
The group had decided that we were going to offer a special treat to the children at the orphanage. Our intention was to use a small amount of money that we received as donations to give a special treat to the children by buying pizza and soft drinks for everyone for dinner Sunday evening. We also agreed that each one of us would pay for our own meal in order to respect our commitment not to use donated funds for our personal expenses. Everything was organized and we were to meet at the orphanage 6:00 p.m. to share the meal with the children at approximately 6:30. This was to be a surprise for the children.
The surprise was going to be even sweeter because each child has his or her turn to work during meals (serving tables, cooking, saying the prayer, cleaning, washing dishes etc.). On this Sunday, chores were set aside.
THE PIZZA ARRIVES .......
A group of young people and members of our group went to the pizzeria around 6 PM to get the 40 pizzas that had been ordered the day before to make sure everything would be on time. What a surprise, upon arriving at the pizzería, to learn that the restaurant had not yet begun to cook the pizzas…. OOPS! .... MINOR DETAIL!…….Fortunately, we had often been told to ¨expect the unexpected¨.
Photo pizzas arrive
As soon as the pizzas arrived, everyone excitedly headed for the common dining area Each member of our group was asked to sit at different tables with the children. What an experience .... especially for those of us who ''hablamos solemente a poquito español''. (talk only a little Spanish).
Photos of tables
TODAY IS JOSELIN´S BIRTHDAY
We were quite happy to hear that a young girl was celebrating her birthday on this Sunday. Joselin (pronounced like Jocelyn) was tiny but she was celebrating her 15th birthday. At the appropriate time, the Canadian group (22 members of RRMRR) sang ''Happy Birthday'' and everyone applauded.
What should have been a minor event of little consequence but for the fact that this young girl had everyone´s atttention for a few minutes became an intense learning experience for our group.
It was very obvious that Joselin was very uncomfortable when it was announced that it was her birthday and even more so when we were singing.
Immediately after the applause, Alcides, one of the senior boys (17 years old) invited Joselin to join him in front of the whole assembly. We could see that this was a very difficult moment for her and we could also easily wonder why she would being put through this ¨torture¨. Each one of us instinctively wanted to get up, hug her and confort her. It was difficult to comprehend exactly what was going on inside this young girl´s head who continuously kept moving her right leg while wringing her hands and crying.
The children on the other hand remained silent and listened attentively to Alcides, who, after a speaking a few words, asked the children in the room if any of them had any wishes to offer Joselin. After a moment, a young girl of approximately 12 got up to wish her ''Feliz cumpleaños¨ (Happy Birthday) and then proceeded to say a few words. She was the first of several young people who stood up to wish Joselin a happy birthday but also to tell her that she was now part of a big family and they were all going to take care of her. Some spoke of her personal qualities but all of them emphasized the idea of ¨familia'' (family)
One of the older boys who will leave for college next year said:''I'm your big brother now and I want you to know that you can count on me. If you have problems and you do not know who to go talk to understand that you can always come to see me because I'm your big brother and that applies even later on when you will be working''.
The children (the youngest was 7 years old and the oldest 19 ) who spoke inevitably ended in wishing her ''Bienvenido in la familia'' (welcome to the family). As more children got up to speak, Joselin´s face began to relax and the less she squirmed. After 5 or 6 short speeches, she began to smile and to clap along with the group when we applauded, Her tears of grief and fear were turning into tears of joy.
It was at that momento that we realized what was happening before us. Joselin had just arrived at the orphanage and did not know yet if she would be accepted by the group. In fact, until this day, she had been sitting at different tables for meals because she had not yet managed to ¨fit in¨ at a particular ¨group table¨. One can easily imagine what was happening inside this little girl´s head as she stood in front of this group at what could have easily been seen as a ¨moment of judgment¨ for her. One can also imagine that she was at the orphanage because she was from a troubled or dysfunctional family or that she had simply been abandoned. One could also wonder how many times she had experienced rejection in her young life. That is probably the fear that we could see in her whole body.
What a magical moment for our group. We were witnessing the end result of all our efforts. It gave real meaning to the fundraising, the generous donations from our friends and families, all the preparatory meetings, the time taken from our daily routines or from our work to get to Peru, the hard work of the volunteers and the camaradery that has developed among the group, the need for construction, financial requirements etc. ..... This little episode that lasted only a few minutes allowed us to grasp the importance of the work that we are doing here.
The contributions of Canadians (100% of the funding for the construction for NPH-Peru this year came from Canada) are largely responsible for the transformation that we saw happening to this young girl. Each member of our group feels blessed to have been''in the right place at the right time''.
Ton, the representative of FOTOCAN (Friends Of The Orphans Canada), was telling me that: ¨It all boils down to the people''. He is so right. Our small contribution to this huge project also depends on people.
It depends on:
-All the people who contributed to the project with supplies or with funding
-All the people who helped with various fundraising projects
-Denis Robert, who is dedicated to the year-round coordination of both RRMRR and AMIGOS DE LUIS, and has become a ¨certified nail puller¨.
-Ron Rochon, who accepted to be our project leader (male) in Peru and uses his sense of humor as well as his sense of justice for the benefit of each and every one
-Marie O'Kane, who has agreed to be the project leader (female) and uses her organizational skills to ensure that all tasks are distributed fairly and well done
-Huguette Boisjoli who always works quietly and is always smiling ¨certified site cleaner¨
-Yvette Quass who spends her time helping in the kitchen and as well as helping everyone and who keeps saying ''I have one in my tent.''
-Monique Leclerc who is preoccupied with everyone´s health and who is continuously checking to see if ''something is missing''
-Nicole Rochon who undertakes all kinds of tasks (even painting ) with a lot of energy and always with her beautiful smile ¨cleaner certified site¨
-Cécile Poirier who has been doing a lot of wheelbarrowing and is slowly getting accustomed to the chaos of living in a small tent ¨certified site cleaner¨
-Eveline Turenne, who has learned to wield a machete during her week in the kitchen as well as practicing her Spanish with Yola. (The 2 of spades is the Joker, Eveline !!!!)
-Louis (Señor LouLou) Boisjoli who continuously works hard without ever losing his sense of humour thus contributing to the good mood and to group cohesion
-Real Turenne, who agreed to take the lead on the construction site and makes sure that everyone has work to do that is productive and that can be performed safely
-Paul (PasPaul) Lagassé who uses his many talents to tackle any job on the site ¨certified photographer ¨
-Greg O'Kane, who brings his experience in construction to the job site especially with the stucco ¨official singer and teaser¨
-Louise (Señora LouLou) Durand who coordinates the updating of the blog while also contributing at the work site and can be depended on to laugh.
-Rolande Lemoing who has learnt to sand bricks all while using her great sense of humor to make her group laugh ¨certified site cleaner¨
-Régis Gosselin, who became a specialist in demolition and is always there to help ¨translator for Raymond´s blog
-Yvette Lagassé who overcame her bug bites to continue her work on the site. ¨certified site cleaner¨
-Jean-Jacques Serceau who attacks each task with energy and relentless vigour because ¨he can´t help it''
-Paul Dupuis, who is also an expert on demolition and who always makes us wonder if he should be taken seriously, especially when he is playing cards
-Norbert Ritchot who is very quiet but performs his tasks very effectively and often serves as the spanish translator. (He also fixes the same flat twice)
-Cyrille Durand who does various tasks on the site while backing Louise on blog work (The cement pail is as heavy as him)
-Raymond Poirier, who has taken a break from his work as''re-bar tier'' in order to write this article.
As Ton so wisely said: It´s all about the people.
Everything comes together ..... the changes in the lives of these children is what justifies each and everyone´s contribution to this great project.
The construction of buildings is important but what is more important is the change in the children´s lives that will occur within the buildings ..