2007

Whilst I was in Lima, I visited Zapallal which is a area of extreme poverty just outside the capital. This dusty desert town is home to Project Peru´s refuge for children.

Today the house is a loving home for thirty two beautiful and happy children. It provides them with food, shelter, clothes and plenty of love, warmth and affection. This place isn´t an institution set up by social services, it is a family for those that do not have one. Whilst I was there, I experienced what it felt like to be one of these children living in the house. I felt at home and comfortable from the start and I have now fallen in love with every single child there and I am considering adopting them !

Project Peru provides a psychologist for these children and teaches them above all to respect themselves and to walk with their head held high. In such degradation, these values are virtually nonexistent. If the poor consider themselves to be inferior, how will they ever lift themselves out of poverty ? This is especially important for the girls who are commonly abused both sexually and physically. This is one thing that I liked about the way the house is run by the house mother, the mother of absolutely everyone- she rules the roost lovingly but with a firm hand and reminds them that she only disciplines them because she loves them.

Every morning the children get up at five thirty and undertake their chores for the day. This is normal in Peru, by the way. A lot of people get up at this time to go to work. The values that are written on the walls for example include ´work dignifies us and makes us understand the blessing of responsibility´.

What is startling about the children is that they are so obedient and respectful. They do their chores without saying a bad word. They get up at this time to clean and seem to do so with pride. I can´t ever imagine a child in England doing this.

They are also able to enjoy themselves without play stations, televisions or Ipods. Instead, the children love to sing and dance and get involved in theatre. Project Peru provides a teacher of theatre and dance for the children and they all get involved. They also love to paint. Whilst I was there, we found an old dolls house and we decided to paint it. All of the children wanted to help. It was so beautiful to see their little faces concentrating on painting.

Project Peru also provides clothes and information for the community. Project Peru receives brand new clothing from shops that haven´t sold that season's designs,  or from companies who are changing their logo and no longer require uniforms. All the clothes that cannot be used by the children are distributed amongst the people who live in the area. It is enough to put the word out in the local hospital for hundreds of mothers to queue for the clothes. It was shocking to see the amounts of needy women.

Of course, it is in my genetic make up to cook for loads of people. On the second day that I was there, I cooked spaghetti for forty five people ! I don´t think I have ever seen that amount of pasta in my life! A highlight of my trip was seeing the children slurp up the little strings of pasta and shout out at the end ´is there anymore?!!´