By Amy Pinkus
I only knew the children from the Puericultorio Perez Aranibar (PPA) orphanage and foster home for one week, but they have made a bigger impact on me than some people I have known for years. They have changed me in ways I could never imagine.
I played and read with children from age 1 to 3. Seeing these children, whose parents were not a big part of their lives, who had to eat what they were given, who did not have money, who might have been abused or yelled at as little kids, who could not wear what they wanted, I thought: These children are in poverty, but they are happy.
Every time members of our Global Volunteers team walked into the room, the children would run and hug us, yelling, "Hola Visseta! Hola!" the whole time. I never knew that hugging children, picking them up, or playing with them, would make a difference to them. I never knew that I had the power to make someone happy or on a larger scale, to improve their life.
Each child had a completely different personality. Some were quiet and sweet, and others were rebellious and wild. Overall, they were all adorable. I never thought I would learn from the little toddlers, but they actually helped me improve my Spanish. None of them knew a word of English, so speaking Spanish was a necessity.
Even though we worked at the orphanage all day, at night we got to see the city of Lima. We went to Peruvian restaurants and experienced real Peruvian dishes, although we did not try guinea pig. We enjoyed the city by walking almost everywhere.
We went to the Inca Market and bought Peruvian crafts and souvenirs. We also went to a shanty town near Lima to see where the children at PPA come from. We visited the houses of two of the children. The houses were literally about to collapse. They were small, often with lots of children and some dogs. Still, the people made good use of what they had and they were proud to show it to us.
This experience was a joyous one, but it had its sad and moving moments too. And through it all, I knew I could count on our Global Volunteers team, whose members were from all over the United States. Even if the team members were tired, they put on a smile. Every single person went out of his or her way to be nice to another person.
We actually had a lot of kids (well, teenagers and some kids) on our team. Even though we were only with this team a week, we became fast friends and still keep in touch.
I became involved with Global Volunteers when my mom and I decided to go on a charity trip. We researched organizations and found Global Volunteers.
Through Global Volunteers I got to help the country of Peru and had, in aggregate, a great time, and you can, too. Global Volunteers helps countries all over the world. So if you want to make a difference in the life of a child, or even an adult or family, go to GlobalVolunteers.org and sign up or donate.
If you do serve with Global Volunteers, it will be a trip you will treasure forever.