Every journey must begin with a single step.
To make a great echo to the title I will start with telling you my first impressions of this experience, yet to be completed!
My first feeling was one of trust, excitement and happiness. I was ready to start whatever was waiting for me.
I came here with an open mind on any work that could be helpful, which also means with no idea of what to prepare for.
Even though I came here with no expectation I couldn’t have been happier of what I got.
I live in a family that made me part of their own the first minute I walk in the door.
The first moment we’re somehow super exciting and all like a dream. The small and rustic house is the ‘’living the experience’’. I felt off my blindness by the end of the first day in my family. A moment of snap back to reality I like to say. I was walking in the street, looking at people, realizing that would be my life, or something close to that reality, for the next 3 months. It is not an experience over 3 months; it is living a new life. The one I was going to live had no point of reference with my real life. I talked to myself, and also to the other volunteer who was staying with me to clear my thoughts, and it helped.
But, what really help and helps all the time, it is the fact that I embrace each moment. Might be cheesy to say, but it is a matter of fact. Every single time I doubt or just question myself why I am here, there is a great moment that comes to my experience and I know that what I am living here, the work that I do, my only presence, is meaningful (and not just for people here, you will probably the one to learn the most out here).
Taking the public transportation here is an adventure, but when a woman is so happy to meet you and talk to you while she breast-feed her baby with nothing but proud, you know you are where it matters. I have a book full of moments like theses.
This is it, the simplicity and the beauty of the experience of leaving abroad and working in a community.
As I was referring, I had a moment of doubt. I will most probably happen because every thing is so different; from the food to the hygiene habits. The nights are family dinner and sweet talks with the whole family. The water isn’t hot and the toilets paper a luxury. But after 1 day, these will all become your own reality and nothing will matter more than the feeling that you are coming home after your day. It will be part of the way you live.
I am not going to say that you will realize how lucky you are, it means to me that we assume that we are better, and I would never see thing this way. We do have different way of living and enjoying life, no doubts. You will realize how different culture is, and it is important, I think, that you find a place where you feel confortable. We are here as role model, but not here to change mentality from the bottom line with our education and beliefs, but with respect and care.
We are here to help, but it doesn’t mean that after 2 weeks, a month, or even a year that you will see a tangible sing of your implication. It takes time. Time to change things that need to be change according to a real evaluation; it takes time to be part of a community. You need to know that the little step you made here is one less to take for the next volunteer. This step is one less for the community. This step is one thing less the family in the field or the teacher at school has to do over his long ‘’to do list’’.
Peruvian people are a welcoming, open and warm community.
You will love your experience. Blue Sparrow is a small organization. With small comes good and bad. You have to know what you are expecting before coming. Working with a small organization means low budget, long ‘’to do list’’ and a starting structure in some projects. According to me, this flexibility in the structure and this ‘’day by day’’ schedule that was facing us sometime was great. Sometimes I wish I would have know better what were the tasks or expectations, but in the meantime the thing that I really embrace with Blue Sparrow is this sense of responsibility and involvement in the organization. The kind you can’t get in a big structure. It is the trust and proximity of Matt and Serei, of the people who built and dream of this for years.