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Mission to Peru
In the summer, 4 Poets (students in year 12) took part in a mission in Peru, organised by the Diocese of Salford and two fraternas called Ada and Mapi. Following in the footsteps of 5 Stonyhurst students who joined the mission last year.
Ellie, Isabelle, Georgina and Claudia worked with some of the poorest people in Peru. Extracts from their journals are below, giving an account of an unforgettable experience.
16th July 2013
It was our first day in the shantytown of Pamplona Alta today. The vast expanse of the shantytowns was unbelievable. The mountains were covered in half built homes for as far as the eye could see. This shock was further heightened by the beautiful sights of Lima we had seen the day before, situated only 40 minutes away from Pamplona Alta – the contrast was astonishing.
This morning we went to a nursery for 3-5 year old children, where we delivered a catechises of the Good Samaritan. Despite the conditions they live in, each child had the biggest smile on their face when they saw that we had come to spend time with them (or maybe it was the biscuits we were giving out…)! After the lesson we sat with them at lunch and played with them outside before they went home.
After the nursery we went to another school, to deliver the catechises again and to help with a dental hygiene campaign being launched there. We showed the children how to clean their teeth properly and gave them all a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste.
Whilst at the school today an extremely surreal thing happened. We were talking to some children in the playground when all of sudden every single child in the school was asking for our autograph! Some even asked for it twice!
Afterwards we reluctantly had to leave the school and the gorgeous, smiling children. It was heart-warming to see how happy they were, even after learning later about some of the traumatic experiences that they had gone through.
Finally this evening we went into downtown Lima to have something to eat and saw the beautiful Plaza Mayor.
17th July 2013
Today we did proper, physical missionary work by helping to build a church. Luckily we weren’t alone; there were 40 young people from Australia volunteering at the shanty town too. We helped the locals by making cement and concrete, shifting sand piles and carrying rocks. I thoroughly enjoyed our work today because we knew we were actually contributing to the local people’s way of life.
18th July 2013
Today we hosted a party for some of the elderly community in Pamplona Alta. It was absolutely fab! We played bingo and each of us brought something typically British to give as prizes to the winners – from Yorkshire tea bags, to Scottish shortbread to an ‘I love Manchester’ T-shirt! After bingo we danced to some traditional Peruvian music and they taught us a traditional dance. They loved the dancing and later some even sang karaoke for us!
The highlight of the day was seeing how grateful they all were for their presents and for the party we had put on for them. One woman said: “You’re like a gift from God, I can’t believe what has happened to me today, I am so grateful for all the love that you have given to me”. They were all so lively it was great to be with them and give them something to enjoy and remember, even if it was just for a couple of hours.
After the party we went back into Lima for an international night with other missionaries in Peru – 300 Australians to be exact. It was great to chat to them about what they had been doing and to see again those who we had worked with yesterday on the chapel. We also had a concert of some amazing Peruvian music and watched an incredible dancer. The atmosphere was amazing – everyone was up and dancing and clapping along.
19th July 2013
Today was our last mission in Lima. This morning we went to La Alegría en el Señor, a school for disabled children in Lima. We had a look around the school which was founded 59 years ago by a German. All the children are given access to treatment they would never normally get in Peru, and the facilities were amazing. We met a few boys in the computer room who were studying Sherlock Holmes! So we told them all about how Arthur Conan Doyle went to Stonyhurst. One boy called Jorge-Luis, who was amazing at English, and was really lively and funny, chatted to us about how long he had been at the school and what his favourite subjects were. We learnt afterwards that he had paralysis, a disease which slowly paralyses your entire body and eventually your heart. The sister said that they don’t know how many years he has left and last year a boy in his class who had the same disease died, which Jorge-Luis was really depressed about for quite some time. Despite this we could see that he was such a happy boy, and the sister told us that he is always singing, playing and dancing; he tells her that he doesn’t understand why people don’t do things because if he can do it then they can.
Afterwards we met a girl called Andrea who is travelling to World Youth Day and she sang her song for us! Finally we met an 11 year old girl called Mariella: she has a disease which means that she has the body and heart of an 80 year old woman. She was lovely and learnt all of our names and gave us lots of hugs. It was definitely the most emotional morning we have ever had.
After visiting the school we went into the shantytowns of Pamplona Alta and delivered food baskets to some of the neediest there. It was lovely to meet the people in the mountains and to be welcomed into their homes.
Finally we went back to the chapel which we had helped to build for a day with the Australians. It was amazing to see the progress that had been made since we had left it – they had done an incredible job.
21st July 2013
Yesterday we arrived in Llupa, our home for the next five days. We were welcomed by the Mayor in Plaza Mayor with the traditional dish of trucha, a fish caught in the river there. It’s delicious!
Afterwards we organised our belongings in the nursery we were staying in and met some of the locals. That evening we went to Mass, celebrated by the priest who comes up to Llupa once a month. We met a seventeen year old girl called Jessica, who walks for an hour from another village to attend Mass. It seems to be very important to them.
Today, we have been sightseeing around Huaraz, which is beautiful. We went to the markets and saw traditional delicacies such as guinea pigs being cooked and sold! We also each got a photo with an alpaca which was very exciting for us!
Still getting over how amazing the landscape is here – Izzi especially.
30th July 2013
Blogging has been forgotten for a while, due to the lack of wifi in Llupa/Huaraz and our lack of sleep!
Our week in the tiny Andean village of Llupa has been the highlight of the mission trip. We stayed in the village nursery for the week , where one room served as bedroom, dining room and lounge!
Despite our far from 5 star accommodation, we were able to take advantage of our culinary skills and cook for ourselves. During the week we made: pesto pasta, chicken and rice, bruschetta and vegetable soup. Mapi was very impressed with our cooking (and so were we!)
Every morning, we worked with the men of the village on the construction site, helping to build the towers of the Church in Llupa. We did the simple but important job of carrying bricks across the village.
Every afternoon, was the part of the day we all enjoyed the most – we got to teach the children and play with them. We made so many new little friends such as Aner, Catiana, Frank, Miguel, Medeline, John, Elvis and Jesus (yes Elvis and Jesus were children in the village!)
Although it sounds like a week packed full of hard work (which it was!) we did have plenty of time for ourselves to enjoy the beautiful Andean landscape, the hot weather and the peaceful environment.
31st July 2013
So we have officially finished our missionary work now and are tourists for our last few days in Peru. After we got back from Huaraz, firstly and most importantly, we caught up on our sleep – it was so nice to have a comfy bed and hot running water back in our lives! Afterwards we went out into Lima and explored some markets before going out for tea at a typical Peruvian restaurant. There, we watched traditional dancing from the different regions of Peru.
On Sunday it was Peru’s Independence Day! We went to Mass in the morning which finished with a very hearty chorus of Peru’s national anthem. Afterwards we went out into San Sidro and went to the beach.
That evening we were invited to tea at another fraternal house where all of our culinary skills were yet again tested. Ellie and I were put to work making gnocchi, Claudia made fresh lemonade and Izzi, Bolognese.
Today we arrived in Cuzco, our final destination of the trip. We had a guided tour round the beautiful cathedral and visited the temple of the sun, where we saw the incredible architecture of the Incas. Finally we visited an archaeological site called Saqsaywaman. The Festival of the Sun is held here every year. Our last stop before we head home is Machu Picchu tomorrow. What a way to end such a brilliant three weeks!
Isabelle Thornton, Georgina Heathcote, Claudia Mastrobuoni and Ellie Butschok-Brain (Rhetoric/year 13)