Every day at Amantaní really is an adventure. Last Tuesday was especially interesting because Lupe had a meeting so the other volunteers and I were left alone with the kids. During snack time, I was left completely alone. It was insanity, and I definitely did NOT have everything under control, but I did the best I could and recognized that “under control” does not exist with a group of fifteen 2 to 5-year olds. Between Lupe being absent for a meeting and another full time employee who usually cleans the entire home being sick, I gained even more of an appreciation for how much the employees of Amantaní do to make sure the home runs as smoothly as possible.
Last Wednesday was also a little crazy because one of the volunteers had to work all day on a costume for a show that Adrian’s school was putting on. Even though we were short a set of hands with the kids, it was so nice to see how much effort she put into it because I’m sure that the moms of Adrian’s classmates worked very hard on the costumes. This is another small detail, just like the portfolios of artwork, which is not forgotten at Amantaní.
Every day also contains its unique challenges. This language barrier still gives me difficulty at times. The other day I wanted to start a game with the kids with a ball I found when they were playing outside. However, I realized that I did not have the vocabulary skills to explain the rules of Monkey in the Middle. I could tell that the kids were getting bored when I tried to explain and start the game. I was really trying my best and the lack of good results was very frustrating.
Furthermore, I was struggling with an ethical issue the other day. I wash dishes every morning for at least an hour and I usually wash more dishes after lunchtime. I’ve been washing dishes every day for the past 2+ weeks I’ve been working at Amantaní. However, I realized the other day that the high cost of the water and the low budget of the home have not been at the front of my mind as I become accustomed to washing dishes as part of my daily routine. I realized that this is a concrete example of “good intentions” ending up doing more harm than good. I questioned whether or not I was helping the employees of Amantaní by doing the dishes or just wasting water. From that point on, I thought about this constantly and every time I walked into the kitchen I tried to go faster and faster without sacrificing cleanliness. This takes practice, showing me again the importance of all of us working at our volunteer sites from 2 months rather than 1 or 2 weeks.
However, every day also contains its unique moments that make me smile and laugh. The day after I wore my Equestrian Team shirt, I wore a Duke Basketball shirt. Jossue pointed out that I didn’t have an “azul caballo” (blue horse) but I had an “azul pelota” (blue ball). It was very cute. I guess I can’t repeat too many outfits too soon or Jossue will notice!
Moreover, the other day on our daily walk, I was pushing a stroller with a baby who wouldn’t stop crying. 3-year old Luciana helped me to get her to stop with a doll, a toy car, and a small rose that she found. She definitely saw that I was struggling and did everything she could to help me. I finally remembered that Katy told me that Luciana has a baby sister named Brianna. I put 2 and 2 together and asked Blanca to confirm that the baby was indeed Brianna. Luciana was the sweetest big sister that day and watching her comfort Brianna was precious. I pushed Brianna’s stroller again today and Luciana was right by my side. Their oldest sister Milagros didn’t have school today so she also came on the walk. She asked me if she could hold Brianna for a bit and of course I agreed. She kept making her laugh and saying, “Te quiero Brianna Michelle!” (I love you Brianna Michelle). I find it so beautiful that they all have each other.
Also, I recently helped take a delivery of supplies to the houses that the kids older than 5 live in. They live like little families with about 10 kids per house. I saw the daily schedule and found their daily routines very unique. It caught my attention that they have circle time every night from 8-8:30 to meditate and talk. They really do live like a family and the kids are never alone.
I hope that I’m becoming a familiar face at Amantaní to the staff, other volunteers, and the kids. I hope that I continue to be challenged and pushed while also enjoying the work that I’m doing, building relationships within Amantaní, and growing as a volunteer and as a person.