We’re partners there with two schools for children with disabilities, one high in the Andes mountains and one in the jungle, along with early intervention programs for babies and toddlers at each location.
This will be our ninth trip in eight years. Thanks to generous friends and family, we’ve been able to provide wheelchairs and walkers, seizure medications, a refrigerator, computers, communication materials, a playground.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about what our Peruvian family and friends give to us.
The teachers become our teachers. The children with disabilities become our teachers. People begging on the street become our teachers. The priest running a food pantry at the Catholic church becomes our teacher. And I have much to learn.
Francisco’s family becomes my family; my sisters and brothers, my nephews and nieces, my cousins. They take us into their homes, feed us papa a la huancaina, lomo saltado, leche asada. A niece washes our clothes by hand. A nephew drives us across the Andes, takes us on paths where we see llamas, alpaca, vicuna. We dance on a rooftop, join hands in ancient songs. We talk late into the night, hearing tales of their parents, their grandparents, their struggles, their dreams.
We belong to a world where we are sisters and brothers, extended family, beloved friends. I go to Peru as a teacher, or I think I do, with gifts to contribute to them. But I’ve found, each time we’ve gone, that I am the student, sitting at their feet, astounded at their wisdom, grateful, beyond words, for their love.
Muchas gracias, familia; muchas gracias, amigos; muchas gracias a Dios.