Peru. The country where the Spanish founded their empire and took over the Inca Empire. Having been in Lima for six weeks has put several things into perspective. First off, the world is so large! The fact that I’m living in a city with over 3 million people is unbelievable. You see different faces everyday, whether on the street or on a bus. What’s my point? That everyday in this city has potential. You can decide whether or not you want to make a name for yourself. You can assimilate with the culture, or you can stick to what makes you comfortable. You can enrich your life with positive experiences, or you can sit at home and go on social media. The possibilities are infinite, but it’s for you to decide what it is that you want to get out of your stay.
On one of the more recent mobile clinics, I was introduced to a daycare center called “Virgen del Buen Paso”. The UC Davis MEDLIFE chapter sponsored a project to repair the flooring and kitchen of the toddler area. The principal, Blanca, took us class by class to meet the kids. The kids loved seeing us and were in awe when they discovered we were Americans! It just so happened that the lesson of the day was poetry. Not many people know this but writing poetry is a hobby of mine. A few of the kids recited some of their poems, and then they asked if any of the volunteers wanted to recite. Nobody knew any! So I decided to recite one of my own.
After taking the daycare tour, we walked to the playground. It was ginormous! There were a group of kids playing in a small section of the playground while the rest remained unoccupied. At first I thought it was because the kids enjoyed playing in the smaller section but I was then told that the majority of the playground had been closed due to infrastructural concerns. The main wall surrounding the playground was old and deteriorating. When brushed, the concrete would flake off.
The principal mentioned that it would take lots of money to fix it but it was something that they’d look into in the future. This caught my attention but I didn’t think much of it at the moment. That same night I sat down to write in my journal and reminisce on the week’s events. I got this sudden rush of anxiety and all my mind could think of was that daycare wall. I wanted to do something I had never done before. I wanted to leave my mark in Peru. I think what pushed me to start my own project was when the principal called me the “angel de los niÃ±os” which translates to the angel of the kids.
This is the part where I talk about my good friend Carlos Benavides. Carlos is the director of all MEDLIFE development projects in Peru so I had to meet with him to discuss my plans. We both concluded that repairing thiswall would be a great idea but we first needed an engineers opinion.
And that’s where I’m at today. Making small amounts of progress and getting closer to the bigger picture. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Peru, or life in general, it’s that you can’t get anything done on your own. Carlos proved to me that being successful is all about the quality of your network. You save time, money, and resources just by knowing the right people.
Instead of hiring an engineer for a few hundred dollars, Carlos called over a friend to do it for free. Instead of purchasing thousands of dollars worth of cement, Carlos found a person that can provide it for free. Instead of waiting a month to meet with government officials to discuss our plans, Carlos was able to get an appointment for the same day. Carlos is the perfect example of a leader and team member. Carlos didn’t meet this people from behind a desk or computer. He met these people by going out into the city and meeting people. By listening to what they have to say and giving them what they need. What do you get in return? A life with new meaning. So when I say that everyday you have the opportunity of meeting someone that can potentially change your life, I mean it.