Balmoral students build for kids in Peru May 17, 2017

Posted in on May 17, 2017

May 18

Although this was our last day of work, it was definitely our best. We started off with an uneventful morning full of sanding, chipping, brick organizing and water carrying. It was a surprise for us to find out we would be taking an early break to see a performance put on by the children as a way to say goodbye. They danced and expressed their thanks with words, thoughtful gifts, and homemade cards. It meant a lot to us that they individually handed us the cards and gifts along with a hug. We all were very happy to receive traditional Peruvian hats and patterned blankets.

After lunch, we wanted express our gratitude to the two chefs who had cooked all our wonderful meals in the past four days. The four of us eagerly volunteered to go down the hill in a tuk tuk to purchase two bouquets of flowers. On the way back, to reduce the transportation costs, we took a crowded bus, which was yet another example of how Peruvians live about their lives.

We wanted to give the bouquets to the chefs at the end of the work day so everyone could be there, but they would be leaving before that time. Only the four of us, plus our teacher and our translator gave the gifts to the women. We were all very emotional sharing our words of kindness and especially when we found out that one of the women had never received flowers before and later showed her thankfulness with tears.

Before getting back to work, we were interviewed by a social worker who was a significant part of organizing our visit. Here, we got to share our thoughts on how incredible the whole experience was for us. At the end of the day, the library was 99 per cent done, making us all very proud of the work we had done.

As we were leaving, everyone was extremely sentimental and sad to say goodbye. Until then, it hadn’t occurred to us that we wouldn’t be returning to the site the next day. Thus we were all reluctant to take that final step into the van. We are all eternally thankful to have had the opportunity to work on building part of a school that will make a difference in the lives of many, and also learn so much through interacting with the lovely people.

By Marina Levit, Dores Shenouda, Jessica Sui, and Emma Joyal
DWC volunteers and Balmoral students, Peru, May 2017

May 17

Go with the flow. A phrase that was very important for today. The morning began as usual, but we soon found out that one of our buses had broken down, leaving over half of the group at the hotel for an extra hour or so. During this time, the others at the work site did origami with children.

At first this delay was frustrating, but we were reminded that things don’t always go as planned. And that’s okay. The vehicle that we eventually rode was unable to take us up the hill where we needed to be, in fear of what might happen in such a neighbourhood. In result of this, we rode a small three-wheeled tuk tuk the rest of the way. This is how most local Peruvians get from place to place, and it was a cultural experience for all of us.

Because of our late arrival, we went straight to work sanding the walls. It surprised us all to see progress that had been made over the course of two days. The library was really coming together.

After lunch, we were informed of a visit we would make to the cemetery, which initially lead to confusion. It was later explained to us that cemeteries in Latin America are made to celebrate the lives of past loved ones instead of grieve them. When we first walked to the viewpoint, it looked like a small village with colourful buildings. But in fact they were beautifully laid out coffins and tombstones. The layout of the cemetery separated children from adults, and wealthy from poor.

Later in the afternoon, a few girls in the group left to visit a local family with three children and two adults living in a single room. There we had a lively discussion with the family, where we realized yet again how similar we all were, and later enjoyed pieces of a sweet Peruvian fruit. We finished up another full day with a lovely walk to the beach, where we could see more of the city and a lot more of the people.
By Jessica Sui, Emma Joyal, Marina Levit, and Dores Shenouda
DWC volunteers and Balmoral students, Peru, May 2017

May 16

I only have one word for you: chip. No, not the food, but the the act of slowly chipping away at a brick wall in hope of inserting electrical wiring. As soon as we arrived at the work site this morning, it was straight up the hill to begin our bruising and blistering adventure.

Now I have another word for you: mallet. Despite the fact that this tool only weighed three pounds, it soon felt like nearly 50. Although this was gruelling, the satisfaction of removing just one little piece of rock was worth it. Because of the length of this task, it came time to head down for lunch before we were able to finish. The tuna spaghetti we were served was the perfect way to fill our empty stomachs after a morning of hard work.

Next up, we headed back up the hill for more chipping and moving rocks. By this point our exhaustion was evident just the like the next rock we needed to dig out of the wall. It seemed they were only multiplying by the second. It was a relieving break when half of us had the opportunity to go visit a local family. Once we arrived we found that although there were four family members, they lived in a one room home. We got to discuss with them and see a snippet of what their daily lives entail. This truly opened our eyes to what it is like living in a community so different from our own. Their hospitality was radiant, making us feel very welcome.

We closed off the day with some last-minute work, then headed back to the hotel. From there, we were lucky enough to visit the market, which rarely happens for most service trips during the week of work. This gave us another opportunity to experience and learn about the culture of this country. The many little shops offered items such as alpaca fur clothing, patterned bags and figurines. With our souvenirs in hand, we made our way to the restaurant for the evening and ate a wonderful meal in the shadow of some pre-Inca ruins.

By Emma Joyal, Jessica Sui, Dores Shenouda, Marina Levit, and Logan Chubaty Boychuk
DWC volunteers and Balmoral students, Peru, May 2017

May 14/15

Our group of grade 10 and 11 girls took off on an eight hour flight to Lima, Peru, and arrived at 3 a.m. PARTY TIME! Just kidding, we were exhausted. But don’t think that stopped us from trying our best at the work site. On the hour-long bus ride to the school library that we would be building, traffic and drivers were outrageous. Finally, we made it to the work site and strapped on our safety helmets and goggles. We looked like we were ready for Paris fashion week.

We got to meet the principal and students of the school who were all very kind and appreciative. Though none of us speak Spanish, nor did they speak English, the language barrier was not a barrier. It was a bridge. Despite the fact that we come from very different backgrounds, we connected over our shared sense of humour and energy.

Our first job was, you guessed it, carrying the wood. Just walking up the steep hill proved to be a real challenge. Once we were up by the library the next task was revealed. Drumroll please . . .  it was carrying bricks outside in an assembly line. This was a test of our teamwork and ability to persevere. Along the way we had several other responsibilities such as sweeping and painting. Then came lunch time in the community centre, where we had potato soup and chicken with rice. It was the best thing since sliced bread.

After re-energizing we have one word for you. Sand. The main objective of the afternoon was to transfer as many buckets as possible of sifted sand into the building, so that it would be ready to make cement the next day. Eventually, after much hard work, we returned to the buses to get back to our accommodations. We slept like little sloths on the way home.

Later in the evening, we discussed the group’s greatest takeaways from the day. From hearing everyone’s answers, we all agreed on how grateful the students were, and despite the community circumstances, how they all maintained a positive outlook on life. It was a nice way to close off the night and everyone is eager to take on whatever tomorrow may bring.

By Marina Levit, Dores Shenouda, Emma Joyal, and Jessica Sui
DWC volunteers and Balmoral students, Peru, May 2017

Posted in on May 17, 2017