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Building a house in the hills of Villa Maria del Triunfo in Lima is a very difficult task. It’s finding the spot of land, breaking the stones to flatten the area, and later constructing a house so that it fits economic guidelines. This is all so that someone else will not occupy the land first. It’s the most powerful and basic law: the one who finds the land first is the one who stays.
But what happens to those who aren’t as strong? Those who have limitations or who have no one to support them?
In other blogs, we have talked about the migration phenomenon in Peru: thousands of people from the interior of the country move to Lima in search of better opportunities. Where they end up, however, is on the dusty and rocky hills that sit on the outskirts of Lima, a far view from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis city that everyone imagines Lima to be. The people who live on the outskirts have interesting, distinct stories on how they came to reside in Lima.
Of Lisaura, we don’t know much, nor do we need to know, because her eyes say everything. What we do know about her story is that it is one of pain and survival, and it has touched all of our hearts.
While inaugurating staircases in the community of 15A-1, the terrain we found was black, an opaque stain over the ground that caught our eye. A new war on land had just begun, and caught in the middle were Lisaura and her 10-year-old daughter, Mariela.
Lisaura is deaf, according to Mariela, due to a sharp fall she suffered as a child at the hands of a relative. She never studied sign language, nor how to read lips.Her daughter has created an incredible code language that only she and her mother can understand. They created their own universe -- their own language and rules. A universe that has been reducedto ashes, just like their house.
About a month ago, Lisaura’s house destroyed by a fire. The burning down of Lisaura’s house leaves us with many questions. Who burned their house? Why did they burn the house? For a house that small and humble, it is probable that someone burned down the house to scare the family so that they could leave behind a vacant lot to be occupied by someone else. Unfortunately that basic and powerful law applies, whoever finds the empty land first is the one who stays.
A distant sister has been providing housing and shelter for Lisaura and Mariela, but they have numbered days in the household. Their salaries are not enough to reconstruct a house destroyed by a fire: Lisaura as a clothes washer and Mariela as a helper in an internet cafe. No materials in the house survived the fire, neither the clothes nor the bed.
Now, Lisaura and Mariela need support from all of us: through MEDLIFE we have the possibility to give her the home that she deserves.
Though she cannot speak, from the emotional weight of her gaze, Lisaura tells many stories, and building a new home would be the best thing for her and her daughter.
Walking through the "pueblos jovenes" of Lima is never an easy task either physically or emotionally. Working in these areas you will learn about people's stories and situations that can make you feel small and powerless, yet at the same you get to know incredible people who are full of hope and a desire for change.
During a Lima summer, it is excruciatingly sunny. The ground is dry and hot, and the relentless sun never lets you forget that you are in the center of a desert. Winter by contrast is humid and seemingly endless. Filled with grey skies and rainy days, the humidity brings the cold directly into the local homes and a chill cuts straight to the bone. For many of these families they have only a thin wall to protect them from these elements.
Such are the winters for Kiara, for which being inside or out of the house is the same; both places are wet, cold, and smell of garbage. At six years old, Kiara has learned to make due with her surroundings. Pretending that large stones are her own personal ponies, that the flowers she used to water are actually cactuses, and that her secondhand dolls have seen better days. Kiara's imagination has no limit, she continues every day smiling and doing her hair like a princess.
Dakota is different. She does not smile as much. At age four she does not understand much, but knows that things are not good. She knows that there are children who sleep in dry beds and whose houses are not full of holes in the walls. If you ask her if she prefers summer to the cold winters, she does not know how to respond. The heat is overwhelming, especially when you share the only bed with three other people.
They are two different children but at the same time are equal, as both have infinite love for their mother. Their mother tries daily to get ahead, to better her family's life. Mónica Coquinchi came to Lima from the Tigre River in the Amazon at age 18, after a five day boat ride and her first and only ride in a plane. They told her that Lima is full of jobs, success, and was her best option.
Love can at the same time be a blessing and a curse. Carlita, two years old, is proof that love forgives all, but can also be blind. Once you take off the blindfold, the truth can be painful. Two years of trial and tribulation to obtain sufficient food is the result.
But Monica's dreams and her preservation are what we really love about her. Her desire to improve her life is so strong that when she enrolled in a free course on Geriatrics. She was such a good student that her teacher let her bring her three daughters to class. Come graduation day, a friend gave her a new pair of shoes, another a nice blouse. But Mónica did not use either; she is keeping them for a more special occasion.
When it comes to beautiful things, perception is relative. For some it may be the sky at sunset, for others it is colorful flowers. For us, it is when we see Monica's eyes after telling her we would build her family a new house. A house without holes and with windows. Cool in the summer and warm in winter.
The Development Corps volunteers are changing lives, fulfilling dreams, and giving hope to people that things can get better. It reminds us that we should not give up and that we need to continue our efforts. We are proud to say that this Friday we will not just be inaugurating a house; we will be inaugurating a home.
"Laderas de Nueva Esperanza” is a community that has never disappointed us. Full of hardworking, honest, and eager people ready to move forward for a better future.
We found out about a problem they had with the playground when Nancy Helguera, the community leader, asked for our help. Our assistance was important as this playground was used by dozens of children in the area.
We don't think twice about writing a blog and publishing the project on our "sponsor a project” section in the website. Never did we think that this recent project would be completed by our first group of Development Corps .
Participating Development Corps is demanding but very rewarding. This new form of project allows you to be a participant and to leave a mark that changes the lives of people for a long time.
For us who work with MEDLIFE it is a amazing to be able to meet old friends again in the community. We have recently been able to build 7 staircases in a single community and that allows us to remain much closer to its inhabitants.
Working in the communities allows us to meet amazingly humble people like Reynaldo, father of our patient Jimena. Reynaldo did not hesitate to leave his job as a delivery man for a week to be able to support our Development Corps without expecting anything in return.
Or like Mr. Fonseca who always full of wisdom and no doubt one of the leaders in all construction to occur in his community. If you ask him kindly, he will teach you all the tricks of the trade that he knows about construction.
This is our first group of Development Core participants and while they still have all week to complete their projects, we are sure there will be many new experiences for both the participants and the community.
After months of planning and construction, a new MEDLIFE project has been inaugurated! A school in Riobamba for children who are deaf and hard of hearing now has a new set of bleachers to accompany its outdoor court: enabling a prolonged dream for many students to finally become a reality.
This project, which began in September of 2013, was initially requested by the parents, who noticed that the school was equipped with a spacious, outdoor court,but had no place for people to sit and watch various games and activities.
The parents also noticed that the original space for sign-language classes was extremely small: the children were forced to cram back-to-back in a small classroom. This hindered their learning experience, as their tight seating situation prevented many students from being able to see the instructor. Now, students are able to take their sign language classes in groups, sitting on the bleachers with a comfortable view of their instructors.
At the inauguration, students and community members spoke in sign language and acted out various cultural and literary traditions in sign. One of the students recited a quote in sign language by Mark Twain:
“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
The inauguration ended with everyone singing peaceful hymns in celebration. The students named the project “the magic stands”, expressing their gratitude for something they had wanted for so long. Now that this project has been completed, families can visit to watch sporting and cultural activities, instructors can teach sign language more effectively, and the community can unite as a whole.
Since MEDLIFE's operations began in Lima, we have always dreamed of building an office close to the people we serve. Now, thanks to your support through the MEDLIFE Fund, this dream is finally coming true.
Unión Santa Fe is a community located in Pamplona where we have brought more than ten mobile clinics, seven staircases, and both water and road projects. Additionally, this community is where our daycare center is currently being built. Throughout our years working on various projects with community members of Unión Sante Fe, they have always shown commitment, collaboration and unity.
Now, we are proud to announce that Unión Santa Fe will be the site of our first MEDLIFE operations office!
This new office will be used as the headquarters during Mobile Clinics, Mobile Schools and Development Corps. The space will also be used for meetings with community leaders, follow-up patients, and educational workshops. Finally, the new office will also create jobs for locals such as our future neighbor Selvestrina, who will maintain our gardens.
Thanks to everyone for all of your support! As MEDLIFE expands, we become more able to deliver more medicine, education and development for communities in need.
Stay tuned for updates!