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Who's helping who?


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I feel like dog poop. My nose is congested, head is pounding, throat is sore, and I'm coughing my lungs out. Coming off another late night made for a long morning at the medical centre and all I want to do now...should do now...is lie down. I crawl into bed but somehow I can't fall asleep. Even worse, I'm feeling even shittier, both physically and mentally. Probably because I know I should go to Inabif. Probably because no matter how crap I'm feeling, I owe it to the boys whose early childhood problems make flus and colds seem inconsequential.

So I get up and make the 20 minute walk through the pouring rain to the orphanage. When I enter the large white metal doors, I'm greeted by a couple of the boys, not via the mobbing and arm pulling like in Ayacucho, but with firm handshakes and pleasant hellos. I make my way to the classroom and find most of them in their usual spots. Alex has started a new drawing, another of his masterpieces for sure. Jorge is flying through his homework, eager to finish it so he can get to the ping pong table and exact his revenge on me. Mirko is reading silently to himself in the corner. Hector is struggling with his math and is waving me over to help him. And I smile because I'm already feeling infinitely better.

For the next 2-3 hours, I help out the 10-15 adolescent boys with their homework, play games with them, and just try to be an overall positive influence. It's what I've been doing here each afternoon for the last 3 weeks, complementing my mornings at the medical centre. At first, I just wanted to see what some of the other volunteers were doing. But after just one afternoon at Inabif, I was so excited to come back the next day. I was blown away by the maturity of them all. I was humbled by the way they look after each other. I was enamored with their politeness and generosity. I was addicted to their jokes and sense of humour. And I was commited to helping out in anyway possible because I was appalled that their parents actually left them and/or abused them.

At 5pm, I walk away from the ping pong table still with the title of champion. The boys are already vowing to take me down tomorrow. I tell them to concentrate on their homework first and as always, they listen. They listen. I can never get kids back home to listen. Just one of the many reasons I love this place. Before I leave, I make a visit to the younger ones who are usually doing amazing acrobatics on the monkey bars and swings. They rush over to say hello and I often wish I had more time to spend with them as well. On my way out, I take a quick peek behind me and see a throng of kids waving in the distance. My aches and pains have temporarily subsided and I stroll home with a quotidian grin. My only discomfort is with myself. I can go in and out of Inabif as I please, to and from Huancayo whenever, and back and forth across borders with relative ease. Those boys don't even leave the orphanage's perimeters very often and yet they live like they're on top of the world.

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In case you didn't know, I'll be home next weekend. Like with any long trip, I'm really excited yet a bit disappointed as well.

Thanks to everyone who sent me a birthday message the past weekend. I didn't really need to be reminded of my old age, but it was much appreciated. Went camping a few hours from Huancayo, got pisced, and slept beside the campfire sometime near 7am. I'm also told at one point in the night, I pulled my pants down and sang Koombaya. Seems to fit in with my theory that the older I get, the less mature I'm becoming.

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Posted by bchu 08.04.2007 18:56 Archived in Peru

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