By Emi Hernandez
A week ago I was very fortunate to go on the ASB trip to Peru with the Catholic Campus Ministry. To say this trip was good would be an understatement; it was an amazing, eye- opening trip that I would love doing again. We volunteered at El Hogar San Francisco de Asis, which is a house where they care for sick and destitute children. The theme of the trip was “Come follow me” Luke 18:18-30 and throughout the trip we did live by this passage. During the week, most of us would either go with some of the kids to a hospital in Lima or stay at the house and help. Those who stayed at the house would interact with the babies when it was baby hour and spend some time with some of the older kids before they went to school. Once the younger kids got back from school and did their homework, they would take them to the park that was near El Hogar. For those of us who went to Lima, we would go to different hospitals for the children to either receive therapy, x-rays or just a consult with the doctor. Once we all returned we would go for coffee with Dr. Tony and he would tell us about some of the kid’s condition. After the coffee, we would return to the house, and the children would sit at the table for dinner; once they had finished we would help clean and then go to daily mass with the doctor. When we got back to the house after mass, some of the older kids that had been at school were eating dinner or helping the other volunteers set the table for our dinner. All the volunteers and Dr. Tony would eat dinner together; once dinner was over we would all clean up and then just spend some time with the kids that were still awake before we left. Our evening consisted of us telling each other about our day. One of us would read a part of the passage then discuss how we were living by that during the week or how we could live by it throughout not only that week but our entire lives.
My favorite part of the day, while I was in Peru, was just being with the kids. We would spend a lot of time with the kids just talking to them or playing with them whether it was at the house or in Lima at the hospital. I also enjoyed talking to the older kids because they would tell me about themselves, ask me about myself, and want help learning/practicing their English. All the kids there were very smart and although some of them were a little bad all they wanted was to just be with you and talk to you. I can say I encountered Christ through the kids; I remember Maya saying in her talk how God is love not just for ourselves and our families but the love we give to one another; those kids were a great example of God’s love. All the kids there gave you their love and although only a few were related you could tell how much they loved each other. You can tell how the older kids would care for the younger ones whether reprimanding them or just consoling them if they were upset. Or how if you gave one of them water they would share that water with the rest.
Although we were just there a week, I felt and still feel immense love for all those children. Just like the rest of the kids do, you look past all their disabilities and scars and just see them for their true beauty and innocence. Spending time with the kids you see how they are smart, kind, caring, and funny just like any other child. I will always remember Piero, a little toddler who would announce himself every time he came down the stairs, Eriberto (Segundo) who loved shouting random English words and bothering Omar and Maya. Alfredo, who would get so happy to see us and picked flowers for all the girls, and Luz Melita the cutest, happiest little girl who although couldn’t quite walk or talk was always smiling. I could go on and on about every single one of the kids at El Hogar, but I’ll just save it for myself. Going to Peru I thought we would just be helping kids, I never actually thought I would learn so much from them. I hope that one day I have the opportunity to return but for now I will cherish the memories and the love I received from the Children at El Hogar.