The Butterfly

Miiisss!! Miiisss!! Miiisss!!
Little screams filled my ears, little hands tugged at my arms and shirt. 
Miiisss!! Tu amiga!!!
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I had only taken one year of high school Spanish but I could work that one out.  Something was going on with my friend… The only problem was, I didn’t have any friends there.  I had just arrived in Cusco the day before via three planes, a bus and a van. The guys that dropped me off that morning assured me I didn’t need any Spanish to do my assignment.  Boy were they wrong.
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Cusco Peru volunteer work - Kalisi
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Miiissss!!! Vamonos!!
The girls were pulling me towards one of the buildings, I couldn’t tell if they were excited or upset.  I’d never spent much time around children let alone 50 at once.  We passed a shoe, some muddy footsteps, and eventually arrived at a concrete hall that had been converted into an open bathroom.  Toilets were on one side and showers on the other. 
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My poor ‘friend’ was in the shower.  A heap of dirty clothes at her feet. 
One girl rushed past with flip flops. Another came with sweat pants, excitedly holding them up.  The poor girl in the shower was in tears.  She looked to be about 18 and was clearly another volunteer, judging by her American clothes and blonde hair.  I worked out later that she had gotten food poisoning and had an accident on the playground.  To say she was mortified is an understatement.  The girls had ushered her in to get her clean and then came to find me, another gringa, so that I could help. 
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 And so began my volunteering. 
I don’t know what I expected.  If I’m honest, I don’t even have a good reason for going except for that I wanted to ‘give back’.  I wanted to help in some way and was fairly devastated when I started looking at volunteer assignments and realized that in most developing countries I’m basically useless. 
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No medical knowledge.
No trade.
No teaching experience.
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What could I possibly hope to contribute? Well, actually… love. 
Volunteer program IVHQ Cusco, Peru.  Kalisi
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When I was assigned to the orphanage I was terrified.  I don’t know anything about kids! What am I going to do with them all day?
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The answer was anything.  
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Anything that gave them the attention they deserved, the education they needed, and most of all, the fun that should fill every childhood.  I would love to say that I taught them the ways of the world and all the defenses they would need for it.  But let’s be honest, I didn’t speak Spanish! They taught me, of course.  Slowly and beautifully, the way that only children can.  
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After the commotion was over, I made my way back to the classroom where one of the other volunteers had been setting up.  Luckily, she was a teacher! Not only that, but she had volunteered all over the world.  Unfortunately, she also didn’t speak Spanish.  So there we were. 
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butterfly drawing
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I did the only thing I could think of.  I grabbed a marker and drew on the board, doing my best to instruct the girls to draw what I had a drawn: a butterfly. 
Mariposa.
One girl said defiantly with her hat pulled down low.  I looked at her.
Mariposa.
She repeated, arms folded. 
Gracias, I managed.
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And so we began. 
By the end of the first week the girls had drawn, cut and created their puppets, built a puppet stand and hosted a series of puppet shows.  All because we all wanted to make something beautiful, tell our stories and have a bit of fun, just for the sake of it.
That is where Kalisi was born, all those years ago, in the mountains of Peru.  Kalisi was born in the smiles of those beautiful girls proudly telling their stories through their creations and inherent power of expression.  I wish I could say that I gave them as much as they gave me, and hopefully one day I will. 
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But for now, they taught me to give you Kalisi.
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Volunteer program IVHQ Cusco, Peru.  Kalisi

3 comments

Shea

Your eyes still light up when you talk about that orphanage in Peru, just like they know light up when you talk about Kalisi. Can’t wait to watch it grow. Keep inspiring and being inspired and there’s nowhere to go but up!

Janeen Lillas

Omg I didn’t know that’s your inspiration. Remembering practising puppets at the home stay so we could show them? Lol I have videos and photos of their productions if you want some.

Larissa

Loving this blog post. Loving your words and even more the story and everything behind your idea. And most of all that you make kalisi come true. Making your dream come true. I’m so proud of you. Miss you everyday xx lots of love

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