Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Peru.


Fort McMurray students volunteering in Lima

Posted in Peru on April 15, 2019

Sixteen students and three staff from Father Mercredi School boarded a plane in Fort McMurray, Alberta at 12:45 am on April 11th.  Twenty-four hours later they were boarding a bus at the Lima airport, heading to the guest house they would be calling home for the next six days. This is where the adventure begins!

Every day for the duration of our trip, a pair of students will share with you their experiences, thoughts, and a few of their favourite moments.

Tamarra, DWC Volunteer Chaperone

Father Mercredi in  Peru, April 2019

Today we started and completed the second day of our six hour work day. We began our day at 5:45AM with breakfast and an hour and a half van ride through Lima and the barrios where poverty and wealth are contrasted at a great extent. Arriving at the work site we are greeted by the master builders and some of the students. The greetings tend to be quite difficult since our Spanish isn’t the strongest and the same goes for them with English. The language barrier was hard to overcome at some points, but we endured with a handful of peculiar hand movements and comedic gestures.

 

We both participated in the same labour jobs, which included rock chipping and rebar bending. These two jobs could have been completed at a more efficient rate with the proper equipment, however, we did not have access to these devices so the master builders taught us how to improvise. These specific moments broke boundaries by creating bonds through teamwork with the individuals working at the job site. These interactions took place with the locals surrounding the job site as well. Although we did not know the individuals passing by, they were still friendly even in the most subtle ways. Although our service trip is ten days, we still have the privilege of returning to a nice hotel on the wealthy side of Lima, while the local workers at the job site return to their homes in less fortunate conditions.  After a long and full work day, it is nice to experience a cultural activity in Lima so we are able to rewind and reflect over the highlighted moments of the day. We have the opportunity to grow closer as a group, through the exciting activities we were able to partake in.

Jake, Grade 12 & Sydney, Grade 10

DWC High School Volunteers

Father Mercredi in  Peru, April 2019

Hi everyone, today was our third day in Lima. Since it’s Palm Sunday, we had a day off from working and we walked to a beautiful Catholic church next to a park with breathtaking scenery and an abundance of cats. Although the service was entirely in Spanish, we were still able to make connections and recognize prayers and hymns from back home.  The local church community was very welcoming to us and seemed grateful that we made church a priority for our trip.

After we walked back to our hotel and got changed, we made our way to Sky Kitchen for our authentic Peruvian cooking class. Hannah and I (Breagh) were trusted with the responsibility of navigating the group’s way there by map only. Once we arrived, we were taught how to prepare four different traditional meals from Lima. Some of the dishes included ingredients that most of us would never consider trying (raw fish) and at first a lot of us were scared and hesitant to eat it.

However, everyone tried every single dish and we were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed it. The chefs that were helping us were very patient with us and so excited to give us a taste of their culture. The whole group felt very accomplished and we were proud of ourselves for being adventurous with our meal and needless to say we all left very full of goodness. Our next activity was walking to the beach, which sparked so much excitement in the group since we had been wanting to go since we arrived and smelled the ocean air. It was a long walk down to the shore, but it was safe to say it was worth it. We think we all let out the kid in us a little bit more today and we bonded a lot. The sun was setting as we were beginning to leave the seaside, and the walk home was absolutely lovely.  After we got back to the hotel, some of the group chose to go on an evening stroll since they enjoyed the walk so much during the day. They all came back super cheerful with lots of happy stories. Those of us who wanted to stay home had some downtime, so we played cards with three of the other kids. It was nice to have some time to laugh and relax after a few long and busy days. Then we all gathered on the roof for our daily debrief and got to listen to everyone’s favorite moments from the day. Tomorrow we go back to work, and we are very excited to go back to our projects and see all the progress we have made and have yet to make.

Thanks for reading.

Breagh and Ciara, Grade 10

DWC High School Volunteers

Father Mercredi in  Peru, April 2019

Hello travelers. Welcome to the journeys of Rylee and Shaelyn. Buckle up this is going to be a bumpy ride. Today is our 18th birthday and who would have thought we’d be spending it in Peru. We can honestly say this is a birthday we won’t forget. The day started early around 5:30am, not ideal. We went straight to the work site to start a long day of hard work. It was the hottest day we’ve had so far so hauling rocks wasn’t as glamorous as usual, not that it usually is.

Although we were hauling rocks some of our other classmates were doing jobs such as plastering, bending rebar, teaching gym classes, digging a trench and chipping away rocks off of a cliff behind the school. We were all exhausted so lunch was a well-deserved break. The local kids at the school made us both cupcakes and the whole crew sang us happy birthday.  That really touched us seeing that these kids we barely know would do something so generous for strangers. We continued the workday and then headed back to the hotel. We were all desperately in need of a shower, which caused some problems due to the limited amount of showers and hot water. We had some time to relax after we got cleaned up and really enjoyed our time bonding and having laughs with the crew. We then ate a delicious meal provided by the hotel staff and they even surprised us both with two cakes. Our dad usually makes all our cakes and should really take tips from these ladies, as it was delicious. After supper I (Rylee) had some time to reflect quietly by myself on the roof and realized how life changing of an experience this trip is. Travelling without our parents for the first time has opened our eyes to a whole new world going into adulthood.  We then had some time to reflect with our group about our highlights and touching moments of the day. We’re so glad we get this experience, especially on a very important day. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Rylee and Shaelyn, Grade 12

DWC High School Volunteers

Father Mercredi in  Peru, April 2019

Hola, it’s Amy and Briana’s blog. We just wanted to take a moment to write about our experience here in Peru. We both agree that this trip has been exceptional so far and definitely one to remember. From the moment we arrived to the moment we began working on our assigned tasks at the work site, we’ve had the pleasure to learn life long skills and more about the Peruvian culture. Each task assigned has been a blast, everything from stacking bricks to tying rebar together has been very exciting, and we have been more than happy to work hard and give it our all. Everyone’s leadership skills and cooperation have been beneficial to the overall project. We have greatly enjoyed working at the learning center and getting to spend time with the children which has been a real learning experience, one major part, which has been evident throughout the trip, is the difference in culture. In our culture, we sometimes choose to take things for granted and don’t realize how important it is to value everything that life puts in front of you. Here in Peru, we have had the privilege to spend time with different families, all which may not have the things we do; yet they show such gratitude and happiness for everything they have. We are so thankful for this incredible opportunity and we encourage you to show gratitude for everything you have and for the things you don’t, and lastly to take time out of your day to love those around you. Xoxo

Amy and Briana, Grade 12

DWC High School Volunteers

Father Mercredi in  Peru, April 2019

What a way to start the “dias”, as they say in Peru!  We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to experience life as a student at the school where our worksite was situated.  Some of us were able to see and understand the living conditions of the Peruvian students in terms of transportation when we rode the school bus with the children this morning; many of the children walked twenty minutes to arrive at the bus stops and were often packed into the vehicle alongside sixty-five other children.  The other half of our group served breakfast to the children attending the school, some of which had parents who could not afford to pay for the breakfast.  In both cases, we felt it was interesting to see exactly what hardships these children must experience daily and which we often take for granted; like spacious transportation or access to a delicious breakfast.

As the day went on, the head worker Miguel gathered the entire group in order to finish the roof of one of the school’s adjoining classrooms.  This was no easy task, as we needed to mix concrete and lift it onto the roof.  However, as part of a team effort, we split into smaller groups with some placing the materials into the mixer, some lifting the concrete up onto the roof and some located on the roof, ready to pour as the concrete came up.  Despite the diversity of these jobs, we were united in our sense of teamwork and focus, which we later came to recognize and appreciate.  Also a uniting factor in our group is our philosophy that you should work where you are needed, not where you necessarily want to be.  For example, as the concrete project was under way, a few of us were sent to paint the IFEJANT and PAN-SOY logos in the dining room above the door to the kitchen. The reaction of the Peruvian cooks to the painting is a testament to the importance of this task, as they were overjoyed at the sight of it; which was extremely heartwarming and validating to see.

Our final day at the work site was concluded with a farewell ceremony organized by the students of the school, their mothers, and the school’s staff.  They prepared various homemade gifts for us and had their own students come up to speak and express their gratitude for our role in helping to improve the school.  They expressed that, without service groups like ours to assist in construction, the process of improving and expanding their school would be much slower.  With such gratitude, seen in the gifts, smiles, hugs and expressions of thanks that the children and staff at the school gave us, we truly felt the impact that we had on this community in Lima; we felt like we had participated in something larger than ourselves but was intended to benefit others and, as a result, it was an experience we will never forget.

As our evening cultural event, we went to see the ancient Inca ruins of Huaca Pucllana as found in Lima.  It was immensely exciting to learn about some of the vital history of the city of Lima.  Just to envision the techniques by which the ancient peoples who occupied Huaca Pucllana built their religious temple, gave us all the more respect for the city of Lima’s ancient history and culture.

Camryn, Grade 11 and Kristyna, Grade 10

DWC High School Volunteers

Father Mercredi in  Peru, April 2019

Hello, my name is Julia and I am a grade 12 student at Father Mercredi School in Fort McMurray, Alberta. I have been absolutely blessed with the opportunity to participate in a service-learning trip with my school as well as DWC. The morning of April 19th was one of bittersweet feelings for me. On the aforementioned morning we had to say our last goodbyes to not only the city of Lima but also the amazing people and culture that we had interacted with whilst we were there. That being said, our adventure from Lima to Cusco was truly a plane ride I will never forget, although it was only a short hour ride, the scenery and discussion that was shared between me and my fellow service trip group members are memories that will stay with me for a lifetime. Discussing the philosophical questions of life such as love, religion, and science while surrounded by such a gorgeous landscape was a breathtaking way to begin our transition to Cusco. When we arrived we were greeted by amazing hospitality at the “Cusco Packers” hostel; the staff truly went above and beyond in order to accommodate our very large group. Despite such scenic surroundings, around lunchtime when we had ventured to our restaurant I began to feel the effects of altitude sickness, the feeling can be described as an dizziness and nausea. Despite the illness accompanied with the altitude, I could not help but be taken back by the amazing city of Cusco, never have I seen such rich culture come alive in the form of such a place. The experiences that I have endured during this trip have impacted my internal character and external worldview in ways that I could never have fathomed.

Hi, my name’s Nikolas, and I’m also a 12th grade student at Father Mercredi High School. The service trip to Peru has not been my first of this kind of adventure, as I was a part of last year’s service trip to Guatemala. Both trips have been quite out-of-the-box experiences for me, both being the farthest from Canada I’ve ever been at that given time. Of course, both trips have been truly memorable experiences, giving me a lot to reflect and look back on. Spending our first day here in Cusco, after a long week of hard labour, has been a great respite for us on our adventure.  Napping most of the day, enjoying the beautiful vistas and mountains, this day marked the beginning of chapter 2 of our trip. The most notable aspect of today was our tour at the Cusco Planetarium, a small, family-run business up on the outskirts of Cusco. We took a van up through narrow streets and dirt roads, and were greeted by two noble pups, Gandalf the White and a black canine whose name escapes me. The stargazers at the planetarium gifted us warm blankets and hot tea, as we observed stars such as Sagittarius A, Sirius, the Southern Cross, and Betelgeuse. After which we entered the celestial dome inside the planetarium, and were given a short tour of the stars of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, as well as a little bit of Incan astronomy. A beautiful spectacle of sparkling stars, forming outlines of mythological figures, it was an amazing show and a fitting end to the tour and the day. We headed back to the hostel for debrief and sleep, us all looking forward to the rest of our trip together.

Julia and Nikolas, Grade 12

DWC High School Volunteers

Father Mercredi in  Peru, April 2019

The day started with wakeup call at 8:30am. Breakfast consisted of a small plate of buns, slices of cheese, slices of bologna, all with a side of muffins. Also with breakfast the group had many cups of coffee and tea. After breakfast we got split into three groups for a four hour long amazing race style scavenger hunt. By 10:00am the groups were off, racing all around the city to check off their list as fast as they could. The various teams roamed across Cusco to find monuments, take four pictures of a number 4, take a funny picture, to eat at a restaurant,  find interesting snacks and drinks, and more. After the race we all met at a beautiful city square with a fountain, and masses of people gathering for Good Friday processions. The group did shopping at a local market for about an hour, and everyone was able to buy some nice souvenirs and gifts for family members. Almost everyone left with a sweater. After the market the group attended church for Good Friday, after which we hiked to the Quoro restaurant for dinner where we had various bowls of Peruvian dishes to choose from. From there half the group cabbed to the hostel while the other half trekked through the city at night back to the hostel. On the way the group saw a Good Friday procession moving through the streets with a marching band and a coffin with Jesus’ body. Once everyone was back at the hostel we assembled to present the pictures from the different group’s journeys through Cusco and  to debrief. We paused briefly as the Good Friday procession passed by our Hostel, and we all went out to watch.  Finally we all went to bed early to prepare for our early journey to Machu Picchu the next day.

Gerrit and James, Grade 12

DWC High School Volunteers

Father Mercredi in  Peru, April 2019

Today was the day we were all really excited for.  We started our day with a lovely 3am wake up call, and embarked on our long journey to Machu Picchu. We took a beautiful train through the Andes from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, finally arriving at one of the seven wonders, Machu Picchu. It was a very foggy morning; therefore we had minimal visibility of the ruins and landscape. We decided to hike the Sun Gate in hopes the fog would lift giving us the view we wanted. It seemed as if the instant we finished the hour-long trek up to the Sun Gate the fogs cleared giving us the picture-esque view we were waiting for.  After our rest at the Sun Gate we descended and toured Machu Picchu. The passion for Inca culture in both of our tour guides was very profound. The impact of Inca culture on modern society was truly remarkable.

The journey down the mountain was not nearly as peaceful as the journey up. After our tour we realized we had to take a bus in a very short amount of time. The group ended up running for the train in a dead sprint in a rainstorm. Quite the interesting experience to say the least. Given our lack of time, lunch was a struggle. Most of the group either munched on a massive bag of animal crackers or had granola bars for lunch. Everything turned out okay. We got to Ollantaytambo on time for a delicious supper and then returned to Cusco.

Hannah and Logan, grade 12

DWC High School Volunteers

Father Mercredi in  Peru, April 2019

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