Saturday, June 20th, 2009
by Angie Simon
We had the best day today! Danelle (Project New Hope) organized a retreat for the youth from the different barrios today. It was so amazing! Oftentimes, the youth are forgotten and left to take care of themselves. They are particularly vulnerable to drugs, crime and prostitution because there isn’t much of anything for them to do in the barrios outside of school.
These kids are the brightest kids and many of them or currently receiving scholarships. We’ve learned that the average education for someone living in the barrio is 3rd grade. In order for them to stop this cycle of poverty, receiving a quality education is the most critical. These youth are so full of life and they really remind us of our Unifund kids that we sponsor to attend the university in Romania.
We chartered a big bus for our forty-minute drive to the beautiful gardens where we would spend the afternoon. Our retreat was officially kicked off with Milly, our youth director, leading us in games along the way. Everyone was interacting and laughing and having so much fun! We arrived to an incredibly beautiful garden preserve filled with lush flowers and trees and lots of grass! Most of the fifty youth that accompanied us today had never seen grass. You can imagine what is must have been like for them – living in a desert barrio filled with sand their entire life and then coming to a place like this. It was magical for everyone! Just seeing their facing lit up for the entire day was so special for us. Everyone immediately ran to the playground adjacent to the large open grass field and climbed on the swings, jungle gum and teeter-totters. We all joined hands and formed a circle to pray – took some photos of the youth and started with our fun activities.
For one game we played, we formed human “icons” from phrases we received. For instance, God is Love – our team formed a human heart. We stood up and shouted them in Spanish. Other teams formed a smiley face and a cross. It was so fun! Another really fun thing we did was to remember to pray for all of our team members. Everyone received a large paper cross necklace and everyone in our group wrote down their individual names on the cross, so we can remember to pray for them either in Peru or the US. It was very touching and our groups really enjoyed getting to know our Peruvian friends on a deeper level.
Throughout the day, we played volleyball and lots of soccer, two sports that Peruvian kids really excel at playing. They were really good. Their national team is ready! Also, these kids had only played soccer on concrete – never on grass. It was exciting to watch them! Kids had an opportunity to go swimming or go to the onsite zoo here. A DJ was hired and many kids danced together under the pavilion. Next to soccer, dancing is many kids second favorite sport. We even got Mark and Tom out there dancing! We had a beautiful lunch of chicken and flavorful rice and a yummy funnel cake-like treat for desert!
Set in the middle of boulders, this retreat gave people an opportunity to climb to the top and see a 360 view of Trujillo. Overlooking farmlands and mountains, this view was amazing- one of which the kids really enjoyed!
We were sad to see the day finally come to an end, but we are all so thankful for the opportunity to fellowship with our dear friends in the youth program. Thanks Danelle!