While I will never be able to out-do this video from Will Johnson, I, too have been giving the trip to Peru a lot of consideration and ruminating on what I learned:
- You can take 15 well-meaning strangers and turn them into a tribe.
- You can ride on a motorcycle far longer than your butt would like you to.
- People can see a smile in your eyes – even with helmets on and mouths obscured.
- With context, using a foreign language is easier, even after a 30+ year hiatus.
- A child’s laugh is one of the sweetest sounds on earth (I already knew this, but it’s worth including here.)
- Anything can become “normal,” including seeing livestock herded down a city street, using bottled water to brush your teeth, having a perpetually sore ass (see above) and trying to think in another language.
Which brings me to my final point – getting used to something even when it’s not “normal.”
The Old Normal at Hogar Belen
The children and their caretakers at the Hogar Belen orphanage have become accustomed to things that aren’t normal for the rest of us. Since an earthquake in 2001 made their main facilities uninhabitable, they have been living on a farm, with sheep, a few cows, and fields. While that sounds picturesque, the farm lacks running water (and that means no hot water or flushing toilets), easy access to schools (the girls I spoke to walk 30+ minutes each way to school), and many of the most basic conveniences you and I take for granted.
And then consider that the backgrounds of these children are also not what we would consider “normal.” On the Neale Bayly Rides website, Neale states:
These children come without birth certificates bearing their name, just a brief story of tragedy and neglect. Burned in a crib, left on a doorstep, or nearly drowned by a mentally unstable mother, all of the children at Hogar Belen carry their horrific nightmares as their only credentials.
Achieving the “New Normal” with WIO
If you have enjoyed reading part 1 and part 2 of this blog series, please consider donating to the children of Hogar Belen here through Wellspring International Outreach (WIO). Let’s help them realize a “new normal” closer to our own.