Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Last Night at Casa

Me and Beautiful Ada

Argh!!! I don't want to leave!!! ;-(  I know I have to - and I am actually looking forward to being home for many reasons...but the reality of leaving here and not seeing the people here whom I have grown to love so much is going to be really hard.

There were moments when I wasn't sure I would be able to make it all three months - mostly when my immune system tanked, and I was freezing the night away in a Cusco hostel...or when my wallet was stolen, or when my vest was stolen...

But enough about all that - I am going to focus on the positive - and share about my beautiful last day at Casa!

Doris, Senobia & Ada being silly
The last day was quite busy as I was running around getting three months worth of projects, conversations, and to-do's wrapped up.  I was so busy in fact that I didn't notice the party being orchestrated in the midsts...Apparently the kids wanted to do something special for my last night, so they put together an incredible Fiesta!  Soraida, Melina, Maria Flor and Senobia choreographed and performed two dance routines, and then sang me a love song ;-) It was precious.  Then Jorge, Leo performed some SkyWalker moves with Marcito as a guest star who rocked the house!!

My Gang
I was blown away by how much effort they had put into the making my last night special, and at their love for me.  And their TALENT, which just never ceases to inspire me! Papa Wesly and Mama Paty got up and said some words, and at that point I was just speechless...which didn't help when they made me get up and say some words...I don't really remember what came out of my mouth - I think I just repeated I love you a bunch of times...

Despite my inability to articulate, we had an incredible party complete with music, popcorn, cake, many laughs, and even more PICTURES!  I didn't want the night to end...

Waiting for the bus
In the morning, I woke up early so I could see the kids off to school.  I stood there as they piled into the Combi van, and gave them all hugs and kisses and told them I would be back soon.  I started crying, but thankfully they were driving off at that point.

Then I turned around to face the Casa, and got this awesome shot of Charlie and Rover:

I know guys, I hate when they leave too...

Bye for now Casa de Milagros - I will be back very soon...


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cienciano Soccer and Inspire To Do

I was privileged to have the opportunity to partner with Wendy Lee and Miles Ito of Inspire To Do in organizing an awesome event for the Casa kids. Wendy contacted the Board months ago with a desire to design a program/event that would inspire the Casa kids, help them connect with the community, and also incorporate her skills and experience working with special needs children. The initial idea was to hold a soccer clinic at the Casa that we could invite other children from the community to, but the logistics involved proved challenging during our timeframe. What we ended up putting together was still an incredible experience that I know the children enjoyed tremendously, and won't soon forget.

Wendy was incredible, and somehow made a connection with FPF (the Peruvian National Soccer Federation) who connected us with their PR Director, Enrique Mayor. When we shared with him what we were trying to do, he graciously invited us to attend one of Cienciano's (Cusco’s National Soccer Team) practice sessions in person, and to attend their game the next day.

Wendy and Miles spent their first few days at Casa getting to know the kids, doing motivational games and exercises, taking pictures and videos. They brought a colleague with them, Leonordo Carrizo, who is a Photojournalist and professor at Ohio State University. Leonardo took some stunning pictures and was able to help us capture all of the special moments from their trip. Wendy and Mils also presented the kids with some amazing donations. They were able to contact Kodak, who donated 5 brand new Digital Cameras, and Miles was able to round up an IBM ThinkPad Laptop! The kids (and I) were beyond excited!!

On the big day, we took a big bus from Casa into Cusco to attend the practice. Once there, the kids were able to meet and greet the players, interview them, hear their motivational stories of overcoming personal challenges, and take pictures and videos with them (with their brand new cameras!) The players and coaches were incredibly gracious, inspiring, and made a huge impact on the kids. After speaking to the players afterward, it seems our kids were able to do the same for them ;-) It was an unforgettable day…we even made one of the local papers!

Unfortunately Cienciano's game was postponed on Sunday, so the kids were not able to see them play.  However, the team managers were so gracious and invited us to come back any time we want!  Instead, we took the kids out on an educational tour of Cusco and some of its ruins.  We had a blast, and the kids were beyond thrilled...

I am incredibly grateful to Wendy, Miles, and the entire Inspire To Do crew for all of their love and energy put into this experience. I look forward to partnering with them again soon!

Click Here to see the Pics
Click Here to Read the Article