Family Service Idea

"El Bichito" children's dining room and tutoring humanitarian centerOkay, this may not seem so “real” to you, but it is for me.

Have you ever wished for ways to help your kids learn to recognize their blessings besides just telling them what they are? Or to realize that they are fortunate to have good schools and teachers? What about the variety of meals you provide? Do you ever feel like maybe they take some things for granted?

Well, I can’t really end those challenges for you or me, but I can tell you one thing we are currently doing that I hope helps with these challenges and others too.

We moved to Peru for a while. And not the ex-pat, American style Peru, but a village in the Andes, where the Real Moms wear long braids and funny hats Peru.  This is outside my bedroom window last week.

neighbors plowing field

For a semester, we are living and serving in a humanitarian center called “El Bichito” (The Little Bug) run by the NGO Eagle-Condor Humanitarian. Dad’s work and the kids’ school are being done by internet. Two women who live close by are the permanent employees who take care of the building and cook for the children who come here each day after school to have their main meal of the day. We eat there, too. White rice and something else each day.

After lunch, we work on math or reading, or maybe a class on brushing teeth or, maybe a craft or learning to use a computer, one child at a time. And we emphasize the importance of doing their homework, which we try hard to motivate them to finish!  Here's Ever with his "Maquina de Matematicas"--the Math Machine we adapted to use local recycling and help the kids enjoy working on their times tables.Math Machines

My daughter is blogging about her experience at sierrarockestoandes.com. Right now she is putting on a book drive.  Go to her post for all the info you need if you are interested in contributing.  I am hoping that we get enough books that we can give each child at the center their own book for Christmas. I have started asking children if they have a book at their house, and I have learned I need to phrase my words carefully (and in Spanish, it’s a big harder for me!) or they think that maybe I’m going to accuse them of having kept one of the books from the center. The idea that they would own their own book is not the first idea to cross their minds. Not one child has yet told me that they had a book at their house.  And from the visits I've made to their houses, it's pretty believable.

Rodrigo's house

One of my teens is blogging a little, too, with a bit less enthusiasm and a totally different perspective. Feel free to give these budding writers motivating comments! There is also a blog about the work we are doing here at El Bichito. And you might like to learn more about the organization we are with at their website, Eagle-Condor Humanitarian. You could even have your own book drive and contribute!

teen playing with kids at center

My teenagers still seem to talk about the new electronics or software they plan to purchase when they get back to the states. Our connectivity both makes this trip possible for us, and makes it impossible to “get away” from “it all.” But I still have hopes that they will have their eyes opened and have a better understanding of their place in the world. Because as impractical as it may seem to take your family to a 3rd world country, it is the real world.

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