Some people spend years deciding what they want to do with their lives- to figure out where their true passions lie and what exactly will make each day that much more meaningful. For me, that decision came easily. Since I was nine years old, I have known how I wanted to spend the rest of my life- working with children. Specifically, children that have family problems, children that suffer from drug or alcohol abuse/addiction, or children circling around the foster system. In short, I want to be that person children feel they can trust and talk to and someone they can turn to when things go wrong. Most importantly, I want to be that person when they feel they have no one else- to let them know that, no matter what has or will happen, somebody loves them.
During my time spent here in Cusco, Peru, I (along with my classmates) have been given the beautiful opportunity to volunteer at Azul Wasi Orphanage, located in the outskirts of Cusco. Azul Wasi was founded in 2002 by Alcides Jordan, a former police officer, and houses 18 children ranging from elementary school aged to high school aged. Jordan founded the orphanage as a positive alternative for at-risk children and teenagers that have been abandoned in the streets of Cusco. Jordan’s main goal for Azul Wasi is to help these children recover from traumatic beginnings and become happy, independent, educated, and successful adults and citizens. Azul Wasi places an emphasis on love and respect, which only helps these children to flourish and helps to remind them that there is an up to every down.
When first arriving at the Azul Wasi Orphanage, we met with Alcides Jordan (its founder) and were given a brief history of its founding and values and were also told some of the children’s stories. It was heartbreaking to hear where some of these children came from, but inspiring at the same time to know that they are miles from where they started. We next got a tour of the facilities and saw the dormitories for the children, the kitchen, where the children learned and played, and also the orphanage’s garden inside its Greenhouse. Prior to arriving at Azul Wasi, I had assumed that I would solely be playing with and interacting with the children. However, what we actually did was so much more worthwhile. I, and my fellow classmates, helped tend to the garden all so these children can have fresh and healthy food to eat, and also to alleviate some of their chores so they have more time to play- more time to be a kid. My classmates and I spread and mixed soil and later planted cabbage, kale, and lettuce.
Now, most people that know me probably wouldn’t believe me if I told them this. Their initial reaction would most likely be something along the lines of, “YOU actually gardened and got down and dirty?!” Well, folks, I did. I’m not much of a nature person or an outdoorsy girl, and I’ll admit, I was not overly excited to be throwing my hands in the dirt. However, this was one of the most rewarding and fun activities I’ve ever partook in! Just knowing that what I was doing, rather than just playing with the children, would directly add to the quality of their lives and benefit them was a blessing all in itself.
After all our hard work was over, we finally had the chance to play with and interact with the children. For about an hour before we left, we all engaged in a soccer match of nothing but blood, sweat, and tears! Okay, maybe not that extreme, but it was most definitely intense and loads of fun. In fact, when we go back to Azul Wasi next week, we have the final match already set and planned- the exciting and eagerly awaited tie-breaker!
For me, going to Azul Wasi was an absolute dream come true. In fact, when I learned that I would be traveling to Cusco this summer, visiting the Azul Wasi Orphanage was what I was most looking forward to. Growing up in East Hampton in New York, I’ve had a lot of opportunities that many people haven’t been blessed with, and being able to make these children as happy as I am every day and to share just a fraction of the things I’ve been given is a feeling that’s indescribable. Kids are the best; they don’t try to be anyone but themselves and they have the potential to be and do anything they want, and my entire life all I’ve ever wanted is to make a difference in their lives. Working with and helping children, to me, is a feeling that could never be replicated by doing anything else, and when I first came to college I made a promise to myself that I would do any and everything to make that happen. Traveling to Cusco this summer with Flagler College and offering a helping hand to Azul Wasi has been such an eye-opening experience, and I’ve never been more sure of what I was meant to do in this lifetime than this moment right now. Flagler College has finally made my dream my reality.This entry was posted in Cusco