Tuesday, May 25, 2010

1st Day at Casa De Mantay!!!

Today, Bridget, Chris F., Molly, and I woke up an hour too early (7am rather than 8am) and we had to make Molly google "what is the time in Cusco" to finally realize the true Cusco time. After our 30 minute bus ride we FINALLY.... got to visit the Casa! Katie and Professor Gomez returned to the Casa once again for the second year, while for the rest of us, it was a new experience. When we arrived to the Casa, we were greeted by a kind women named Pilar, who is the oldest mother from the Casa, as well as Fisco, the resident dog.

Let me tell you, the Casa is impressive, big and beautiful. This past May 5th, it celebrated its 10th anniversary founded by Raquel and Sergio. It is painted with bright and vibrant colors, (where some of the rooms had been painted by the previous Bryant group) and has a courtyard. Katie and Professor Gomez commented on how there had been many improvements to the house within a years time, such as newly painted rooms and a grassy and paved courtyard.

As soon as we were greeted by Pilar, she took us for a tour of the Casa. Professor Gomez, Chris F. and I helped translate. Pilar told us how there is currently 13 mothers at the Casa, with one named Faustina who is expecting a child in june. When we think of mothers, we think of women who are usually older than 20. However, one thing that was shocking for me and I am sure for others, was that the "Madres" (mothers) are actually 13-18 years old and 90% of them had been sexually abused or raped. Also, these mothers are usually from rural areas where it maybe taboo to speak about sex at an early age.

By being at the Casa, Pilar told us how by the time these mothers are 18 (which is when the mothers leave the Casa), they will learn to inependently live on their own by working, cooking, cleaning, and of course, taking care of their child. These women receive daily schooling as well as counseling. I thought I understood what living independently meant, but after volunteering and meeting the women today, I learned that the lives of these women are really difficult and that they must grow up really fast to accomplish tasks that most of us do not do until were much older than 18.

During, the tour Pilar showed us the schoolroom, the kitchen, laundry room, bedrooms, (where I found it interesting how both the mother and child sleep together to strenghten their bond), nurseries, and workshop. The workshop was impressive because it is run by one of the owners of the Casa, Sergio where the mothers work 3 hours a day to create accessories such as pencil holders, makeup bags, purses, and other items such as bookmarks. These accessories are then sold to several stores in Cusco called "Trinidad Enriques" and recently to buyers in the United States. I felt that the workshop was a good way for the mothers to learn how to deal with work among other tasks. Also, Molly brought up a good point of possibly being able to work with the Casa in helping them sell on a bigger international scale...... hmmm International Business?

After the tour, I helped take care of babies in the nursery. Let me tell you, I lack mother genes because the children did not want to eat food no matter how hard I tried to feed them. Then after the nursery and a delicious lunch, both Chris's, Bridget and I efficiently cleaned the kitchen. I washed the dishes, Cinnabon dried the dishes, Chris F. dried the dishes and then threw them across the room to Bridget who put them away. Meanwhile, Professor Gomez and Katie went to the market with Raquel to buy some painting for the walls, as well as a new TV and a DVD player. Also, the rest of us made some bonds with some of the children and took them to play at the park. I had a super cute child named Carlos, Molly made a best friend with a little boy named Diego, while Melanie watched over another boy who was quite rebellious and laughed at her when she fell (Sorry Melanie, I had to write it in).

Anyways, I want to end this long blog by saying that the first day at the Casa had been a truly great and tiring exprience. Taking care of small children is harder than it looks but it was a lot of fun. We're all looking forward to tomorrow where we will paint the outside border walls purple and draw cute angels (or at least we'll try to).

- Marcia

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