Delaying the goodbye 

My Peruvian Adventure ended just the way it started… With a delayed flight. It seems as though the Peruvian people just didn’t want to see me go! After a 2 hour flight delay, a missed connection leaving me in the Miami airport for 12 hours, and a week in the hospital  after contracting a waterborne virus, my second journey to Peru has finally come to a close. As I reflect on my travels, my set backs, and the countless stories of my adventures I am left to answer a simple question- was it worth it? My answer, absolutely.

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It took me a while to write this concluding post for a number of reasons. I spent the past two months recuperating from my rocky return, focusing on my studies, and also trying to   formulate into words all that I experienced during my two summers in Peru. Despite living in the same room and working in the same clinic, my two trips could not have been any more different from one another. If I could sum up my adventures into one sentence it  would be as follows: I lived, I learned, and most of all I loved.

I was once told that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are more than a thousand words that capture my gratitude and love for the Oasis of amor y esperanza  in Chimbote, Peru.

This was hands down one of the most trying yet rewarding journeys that I have ever been on. I was pushed to my limits both physically and emotionally from the start of my trek up until the very end, but looking back I wouldn’t trade the sweet moments with the patients and children for anything. I did not take this journey alone, and I have to offer my utmost gratitude to the many people who helped me along the way.

To the Sisters who welcomed me to the place that they have poured their heart and soul into over the past 50 years, to the patients who opened their homes and consultation rooms so that I may observe, and to the workers at the Maternidad who were always welcoming to my curiosity and desire to learn-muchisimas gracias.


To my huge support system back home- your well-wishes, texts, comments and FaceTimes meant more to me than you will ever know. I am so blessed to have so many people who were so supportive of my journey, and who have come to love the people of Chimbote through my photos and stories.

To my Mom and Dad- thank you for never squashing my rather large aspirations, for always supporting my dreams, and giving me the courage to follow my heart wherever it may lead.

To all who donated to the clinic prior to my trip- thank you. There are absolutely no words to express the gratitude I, and the Sisters at the Maternidad, have for your thoughtfulness and generosity. To those who still wish to donate, please know that donations are always welcome to the Maternidad, both the home visits program and the orphanage are run solely on donations. Should you wish to donate, please mail your donations to the following address (note: checks must be made out to the Dominican Sisters and must specify Chimbote Works):

 Dominican Sisters 
Finance Office 
2025 Fulton E.
Grand Rapids, MI  49503

To the people of Chimbote- gracias. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your stories with me, the words and struggles you shared with me will forever be etched in my heart, and you will forever be a part of my life story.

Lastly, to the children, “my babies”. Thank you for your unconditional love, for opening up parts of my heart and soul that I never knew existed. I wish you nothing but happiness and joy in your lives ,and pray each day that you will get the love and attention that you so rightfully deserve. You are all beautiful, intelligent, and resilient. May life never dull your precious and contagious smile. Please know that if I could adopt you all I would, and that you will be carried in my heart forever.
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My life and my heart will never be the same.

Thank you for following me along on this special journey and for allowing me to share the faith, spirit, and love of the people of Chimbote with you for the past two years.

Kate

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Amor y esperanza

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

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The past few days have left me faced with a range of emotions combined with an even greater range of questions running through my mind. I have questioned whether it was worthwhile for me to have returned to Chimbote for a second time. I wondered if I was making any sort of impact on the community, and after several long days at the Maternidad I longed to return home to Providence to be surrounded by the comforts of home, my family and my friends. I repeatedly asked myself “why am I here?” My answer came to me in a reflection with a friend over M&Ms and Oreos this afternoon. I was called to Chimbote to be a source of love to the people. Through this trip I have been able to give of my heart, to love with all my heart, and to find the place where my heart is filled with gladness as I provide the love  and attention that the children and people of Chimbote so desperately hunger for. I was able to realize that I have been called in such a special way by God to serve and to love the people with whom I work each day, and that, despite my hesitations, I have been so very much blessed to have had this second opportunity.

Amor y esperanza. Love and hope. The Materindad de Maria was created to be an oasis of love and hope amid poverty and violence.  This week I have been exposed to a great deal of  poverty and violence that have left me without much hope wondering where the love has gone. On Saturday I participated in a walk to end women’s violencIMG_8386.JPGe. Violence against women is a huge problem in this region, and the walk was the first time that the public had taken a strong stance in support of the women. The day after the walk,  I learned that one of the women I had walked alongside of was shot and killed by her husband because of her participation in the march. I then traveled to one of the poorest houses that I have ever seen. The family lives in a tiny one bedroom house that is furnished with one twin bed, one light, and one gas burner. The father is a diabetic and paralyzed from Processed with VSCO with c1 presetthe waist down, the children ages two and four are undocumented, and the wife is pregnant with their third child. Ellie and I spent two hours after the visit going from community to community searching for an empty house that the family could relocate to, and were unsuccessful. The following morning the wife gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I stood beside the mother and child in the maternity ward after the birth and questioned what life the baby boy would have. We returned to the house  later the next day only to find that the father had not fed his two children since his wife had gone into labor. I looked at the room and at the children and held in my tears.  My heart so strongly wanted to scoop all three up and bring them back to the house with me- to bathe them, dress them in clean clothing and feed their hungry tummies. I instead ran to the market, bargained to get as much food as I could with only one sol, and returned to the house watching to ensure that the father fed his two children.  Where was the love and hope in this situation?

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That afternoon, despite the morning’s heartbreak, I was able to celebrate Sandra’s second birthday. The local Lion’s Club threw a huge birthday bash for my sweet girl complete with candies, cake, dancers and a piñata. I am so very blessed to have spent the past two years celebrating her birthday, and although it breaks my heart to see her celebrating her birthday in the orphanage, I am so very grateful for the compassion, love, and care that she and the other children receive. As much as I love the home visits, I always look forward to my afternoons with the children. Watching them giggle as we run around the yard chasing bubbles, lifting them high in the air, and dressing them in Providence College gear hoping that they might one day become future Friars brings me so much joy.

Despite the heartbreak, poverty, and violence that surround me the children renew a sense of hope within my soul. They crave my attention and love and they remind me of the things that matter most. I hold the people of Chimbote in my prayers each day as I hope and pray for an end to poverty and violence, and work each day to be a beacon of amor y esperanza as I fulfill my special calling.

With love from Peru,

Kate