Monday, May 31, 2010

My buddy, Elias

I had a great week with the Tallowood team and it was sad to see them go!

On Thursday, I helped with the prenatal class again. Jessie had to be at Joshua's school this morning, so I was in charge of setting everything up for Maria, the nurse. Unfortunately, only one new girl, Estafani, and her mother came. We think there must have been some miscommunication with the mothers because it was unlike them to not show up. But it was still great to have someone new come! Estafani is 16 and 6 months pregnant. I think she and her mother learned a lot. Maria's lesson was about family planning (aka contraception). I was surprised at how little Estefani and her mother new about this subject. I learned that in Peru, only about 40% of births are desired/planned births. Also, the grand majority of people don't use contraception at all. One thing to note is that birth control is free in all of Peru. It is free because reproduction is a huge problem here and the population is continuously growing. This means that the reason women aren’t taking birth control is not because of the money. It is because of lack of education. Another thing to mention is that the local hospital in Collique has the highest maternal death rate in Lima. This is not because of malpractice, but because of malnutrition and anemia. The mothers either don’t know that they are supposed to take their prenatal vitamins, or they don’t have any, or they just don’t do it. This hospital also has the highest rate of cesarean sections because they don’t use epidural so the women get so tense and can’t relax enough to have a natural birth.

While the Tallowood team was here last week, they spent a lot of time painting houses for a few of the OSA families. On Friday, I was able to go help paint two of the houses. We were working on the first house, and before we knew it, we had about 6 little boys from the neighborhood helping us paint! You could say that we pulled a “Tom Sawyer” on them....but they were all so anxious to help out. While we were painting, we got a chance to tell them why we were doing this. (I think they were a little shocked that we would do this for free!) I know that the Lord had us painting that house at the perfect time, because we were able to have some great conversations with those children. Jennifer from the Tallowood team told the kiddos about Jesus, prayed with them, and handed out New Testament Bibles to all of them. I was surprised at how receptive all the kids were to this. Isnt' God awesome?
There’s another cute story I have to share about this experience… while we were painting, there was a group of older boys down the street whistling at us and yelling things at us. They were harmless and really did not bother us at all, but a precious 6 year old boy who was helping us paint, Elias (yellow shirt), stood out in the middle of the street with his hands on his hips and yelled, “No saben ustedes como respetar a mujeres?!” (“Don’t you guys know how to respect women!?”) It was the cutest thing ever, and it warmed my heart that this little 6 year old would stand up for us like that in front of his older peers. Too cute.

One of the houses I helped paint was Nilda’s (the woman who just had baby Moses). We asked if her and her children would like to pray with us for her house. After the prayer, she told us how grateful she was for our work and that she didn’t have the words to thank us enough. It was a beautiful moment because even those in the group who couldn’t understand what she was saying literally, knew was she was trying to express. I love how moments like these can be bigger than the language barrier.

This weekend I went to Miraflores with the Tallowood group. This is a very nice, touristy part of Lima and was a HUGE change from Collique. It was a lot of fun to experience this side of town, but it was also hard for some of us to accept the fact that the kids we had been working with all week have never seen any of it. My favorite part of the weekend was going to the markets on Saturday! The Tallowood group left Saturday night and it was hard saying goodbye to them! They were all great people and a lot of fun to have around.

I’m also very excited about a project that the OSA team and I have decided would be good for me to work on while I am here!…. Here at OSA, all the kids in the program receive a nutritious lunch when they arrive at 1:00 every school day. Three different OSA mothers come to prepare the meals everyday according to a schedule. It is very important that the mothers come on their assigned day, because if they don’t, the children don’t eat. Unfortunately, this has happened 3 times since I’ve been here. In addition to the kids not eating, the child whose mother didn’t show up to cook gets suspended for the week. If the mother doesn’t come 3 times, the child gets suspended from the program. This is a very hard rule to enforce, but is necessary to teach responsibility. Many of the kids who used to be malnourished are now at a healthy weight because of the daily meals, which was the hope of the program. We have the height and weight measurements from the kids from 2007 till now. So the project I’m going to work on is to organize this information and make a growth chart for each child to show how they have grown since they started receiving these meals. Metche and I will be taking the kids’ measurements this week.

last thing - i have to share this paparazzi shot of Diego:

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