Published: April 9th 2011April 9th 2011
This is not easy to write so I do not know if it will be easy to read. Often when people heard I was going to Peru, they assumed that it was going to be a non-stop party. A way of escaping the monotony and boredom of life. I am the first to admit that I have no real aspirations career or money-wise. And I suppose many of you think its easy for me to leave behind England for a 4 month fiesta. Now, don´t get me wrong there are fun times and there are experiences I would never have if I spent all my life in England. I want to be here. And as such you have to take the good with the bad.
Yesterday I attended a funeral for a 10 year old boy. He was the son of the señoritas I worked with last year and who I was currently working with this time round. She is a beautiful person. She is kind, gentle and loving. She was like a surrogate mother to me last year. I spoke no spanish when I arrived and she was patient and helped me through the tough first two months. Her son, on his way back from school, was playing with some friends. A truck drove past slowly and they decided to try and jump on the back of it. He managed to scale the truck but one of the crates in the back shifted and its entire weight crushed his head. He died there and then.
What do you say to a woman who has lost her child? I cannot find the words in English, let alone in Spanish. What do you do to help? Words feel empty. Flowers, meaningless. Tomorrow I am hopefully going to see her with one of the volunteers. And I think this is the best I can do. The best anyone can do. To be there for someone. Even if it feels like it is going to be the worst thing you will experience. Even if you feel entirely useless. Even if every bone in your selfish body is telling you not to go. You have to show up. Thats what being part of the human race entails. Showing up. At the funeral, the señorita broke down. She started screaming and crying. And all the women crowded round her. Some them combed her hair. Some of them massaged her head, some her feet, some her arms. They poured water on the back of her neck. They cried with her. They were there for her. They didnt speak. But just knowing that these human beings cared, calmed her. She wasn´t alone.
Now I dont expect you who are reading this to understand. You dont know the woman. You havent been here. You cant imagine what is happening. I am not even sure what the purpose of writing this is. I felt I needed to express that doing this, going to Peru, isnt easy. Its not the easy way out. The things I have heard and seen with regards to the children I work with and with regards to Ayacucho and its people. The reason I have come back here, is not because I have found paradise. Its because when I am here I am showing up.
And thats the best I can do.