After almost ten months in Peru, I have finally been to a local soccer game. It was full of crazy Peruvian fans, bands, riot police, food, and a Jose Galvez (Chimbote) win. I am pretty sure that I am the first gringa to ever been seen at a game in that stadium based on the looks from my fellow Chimbotanos.
Throughout this past week, three noteworthy events occurred here in Chimbote. As always, the month began with getting weights and heights for all of our kids in the project in order to track their nutritional status. This is always a big project on its own since we are a small team and have over 300 kids, but this month, we had to draw blood samples from all our kiddos as well in order to test their hemoglobin levels after three months of iron supplements. It was a busy week. My favorite moment happened on Thursday afternoon when I was pricking fingers and making kids cry. I had just finished pricking the finger of one of the girls in our project and we were waiting for her results. Back in February when we tested her hemoglobin, she was borderline. Her mom was great about bringing her to receive her supplements every week and participated in our nutritional workshops. When I told her mom that she had gone from being borderline anemic (according to the ministry of health standards….see this post for my rant) to being well into the normal range, her mom got tears in her eyes because she was so happy. It is really amazing to see results like this. We had kids who have gone from severe anemia to borderline anemia in just a matter of months.
Not only have we had some really great success with our kids and their hemoglobin levels, but the gardens that we helped our families plant are doing great. The families who were among the first to benefit from the gardens have been able to harvest their veggies. The gardens look beautiful and these families now have fresh veggies to eat on a regular basis.
Finally, yesterday we had a workshop with our community agents that focused on self-esteem. Peru is a very machismo culture and you can tell that many women do not think very highly of themselves because of the culture and attitudes by which they are surrounded. Our community agents are some of the most amazing women I have met down here. They do really great things for their community without hope of compensation or acknowledgment. They are smart, active, caring leaders in their community. This is the way I see these women. I am proud to work with them and blessed to have met them. Because of the great things they are able to do in their community and the respect they have gained from their neighbors, I assumed they saw themselves the same way. The workshop yesterday was really eye-opening for me. One of the activities was to think of some of your strengths and weaknesses. A number of the women could not think of a single strength which simply blew me away. I could not help but wonder, “If these women have done this much without thinking they have any strengths, what could they do if they really knew how amazing they are?”. The afternoon was spent on self-assessments and recognition. While talking about milestones throughout their lives, many of the women talked about their involvement in the project. This was the first time that I really realized that not only do we have the opportunity to change the lives of the children in the project, but we also have an opportunity to give something to these women that they have never had before.
This week I am thankful for skype which gives me the chance to see my goddaughter even from half a world away. I am also thankful for my amazing parents who are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary tomorrow. It has been great to grow up and see them not only as my parents but as two best friends who are still very much in love. I count myself very blessed to not only have them as parents, but to also have them as friends. Happy Anniversary and here’s hoping for 30 more years!