PASEO Program Adventure—Days 34 and 35: El Porvenir y Huanchaco, Peru

On Thursday (of last week), we returned to three different schools to observe whether or not any changes had been made in the classroom following the workshops we provided throughout the past few weeks. While some classrooms continued to have difficulties gaining the attention of students, other classrooms were thriving with participation, motivation, and passion on behalf of the teachers. It’s truly incredible to see such a small difference taking place, and we can only hope that these students will feel a greater level of support in the classroom setting, since so many of them lack the support they need and deserve in their households.

On Friday, we had our Spanish Grammar course, followed by a new experience that myself and one of the other students are just beginning. Today, we began a group for adolescent males at a site that provides meals to children of women (many of whom experienced domestic violence), as well as a safe space where they can play, do homework, do crafts, or just have socialize with friends and community members. Since there are no male workers or volunteers on site, myself and another male from our program began a group for adolescent males, which will focus on providing psychoeducation regarding healthy interpersonal relationships, feelings of anger, aggression, and how to manage them in a healthy manner, as well as effective communication skills.

While there is a great need to focus on possible trauma and situations that these children and adolescents have experienced, unfortunately, due to timing, it wouldn’t be fair to begin therapy and return to the States shortly after. Therefore, we can only hope that these groups will provide these teenagers with a greater level of support, as well as beneficial information about the aforementioned topics. 

PASEO Program Adventure—Day 14: El Porvenir y Huanchaco, Peru

Last night, we went salsa dancing at a local club, which didn’t start until midnight. Given the fact that most reasons to stay up later in the States (i.e. Blacklist, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, etc.) are over by 10:00pm., it’s safe to say that this was way past my usual bedtime. We were out until 3:00am before I remembered I had to be at my internship site nearly two hours away at 8:00am.

Today’s observation was pretty interesting, since I was able to observe an art class, during which the students were learning Marinera—the coastal dance of Peru. I was then able to observe another class where the students were asked to draw a tree in which each part of the tree represents an important aspect of their lives—including values, support systems, and goals for the future. Last week, one of the principals informed me that vocational considerations aren’t usually discussed with the children, so it was great for so many children to have the opportunity to think about their interests, plans, and goals. It was also refreshing to see a professor teach with such passion because doing so allowed her to maintain the class’ attention, which appears to be a big problem in many of the public schools here. But it just goes to show, if you are truly passionate about what you do, you can absolutely make a lasting difference in the lives of so many others.

Upon returning from the school, I had class on global mental health, which I’ll discuss later on. For dinner, we went out for local street food, and of course, we had more papas rellenas, a baked potato dough usually filled with beef, onions, hard-boiled eggs, cumin and other spices. Once prepared, this incredible healthy (just kidding) blob of goodness is deep-fried. Because what isn’t ten times better deep-fried?

Snapshot Challenge Saturday

This week’s Snapshot Challenge is one of two twin brothers, Peter and Paul. They were both suffering from severe malnutrition, pneumonia, and cardio insufficiency when they were brought to Misioneros Del Camino at six months old. Now at a little more than seven years of age, they are both healthy, happy, loving, and a little mischievous too! I took this picture this past week and it fits right in with these Snapshot Challenges because if ever you want to find beauty in life, all you have to do is look at a smiling child.


Not Just an Orphanage, But a Sanctuary and a Home

For those of you who have been keeping up with my blog recently, you know that I just returned from a medical missionary trip to Guatemala. And for those of you who haven’t been keeping up with my blog, well, I just returned from a medical missionary trip to Guatemala. Having traveled with some of the most well-respected doctors in the country and a great group of volunteers, we brought medical attention to those in need in Sumpango, Sacatepéquez (Guatemala). During this incredible four-night, five-day trip, we stayed in an orphanage called Misioneros Del Camino. The story is as follows:

Leonor Portela was widowed with a six month old son in 1961, when her husband, Captain Jose A. Crespo’s military airplane crashed into the ocean. Three days after the devastating earthquake in Guatemala on February 4, 1976 which left 23,000 dead and 100,000 injured, Leonor traveled to Guatemala to care for the victims of the earthquake.

While in Guatemala, she felt a calling from God to help the poor children of that country, so in 1986, with the $2,700 she had raised with her prayer group, she moved to Guatemala to open a Home for the children.

Since then, Leonor, also known as Mami Leo has saved hundreds of kids from the garbage, sides of streets, and those who have been dropped off at the orphanage. Misioneros Del Camino is home to orphaned, abandoned, and malnourished children of Guatemala. The Home offers them a healthy environment to grow in, where they receive love and an education. This prepares them to become productive citizens of the society thus breaking the cycle of ignorance, poverty, and abuse.

Misioneros Del Camino also homes a neurological clinic on site, which helps treat children with various neurological disorders including autism, down syndrome, learning disabilities, attention defect disorders, and many more. Considered the best clinic of its kind in Guatemala, parents from America even send their children here for treatment! The clinic offers seven different therapies per child including speech, vocational, occupational, and others as well. There are currently one hundred and fifty kids being treated in the clinic, with a waiting list of over a hundred more. Treatments, medication, and transportation are all provided, free of charge, thanks to donations.

Misioneros Del Camino provides children with love and kindness, something they have never been accustomed to before. Because of all Mami Leo’s hard work and dedication, these children will grow up and make a difference in the world, because someone was kind enough to make a difference in theirs. Feel free to visit the website and check it out for yourself, but I wanted to devote a whole blog post about this home and sanctuary because it has made such a difference in the lives of our future generations, and is definitely a cause worth fighting for.

Papucho came to the orphanage and his only means of getting around was crawling on his arms. With the necessary therapies, he can now walk and is beginning to work on speaking as well!

Some of the most amazing kids you’ll ever meet in your life!

Mami Leo and some of her incredible children!

Alfonso and his twin brother Sergio came to the orphanage as kids, unable to walk or speak due to the severity of their mental retardation. However, after lots of various therapies, they can now walk, run, dance, speak, and sing!