My Defining Moment

As was stated in my post about our first Friday in Peru, we were blessed with the opportunity to help rebuild the house of a local woman named Sara. Sara constructed her house on the hill of the El Augustino district of Lima, Peru. Her family consists of herself and 7 kids, their ages ranging from two to eighteen. She is also about to be a grandmother. Her house was originally made out of cardboard, rotting wood, tarp, and torn tin sheets. It was in rough shape, and it was filled with bugs, trash, feces, and rotted food. Through two days of work, we were able to tear down the old house, dispose of all of the trash, create a wall of rock, build a house from wood and solid tin, and paint it bright blue. The end result was a sturdy house that stood out on the mountain top, but most importantly it resulted in a happy family who had a luxury they hadn’t been able to afford.

As I mentioned in my post, I met a beautiful young girl named Corri at Sara’s house. Corri helped us to move small items, but she then specifically helped me to carry some very large pieces of wood and debris from the house. After I told her that she was very strong and did some great work, she smiled and gave me a huge hug, and ran off laughing. Although it was a brief moment in time, this little exchange filled me with joy and made me realize what exactly I came to Peru to do. I didn’t come here to have my first cultural experience or to take a break from the summer heat; I came here to help others and find myself, and to discover just how important my faith is in my life. Life in the US is pretty hectic, and it is easy to get caught up in the ideals of those around you without holding your own values as the most important thing. Here, all that matters is my experience, and other peoples opinions have no effect on how it goes. However, the only factor that determines how this trip goes for me is my level of commitment to all aspects of this trip.

I committed myself to doing all I was asked and helping in any way possible that Friday morning, and that decision changed my life. By committing to that, I set myself up to have this interaction with Corri. Corri really changed my life and my view on the world. Spending my Friday working in a place that on the exterior looked so desolate and hopeless, but was filled on the interior with God and so much happiness that I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for the opportunity presented to me by Señor Cordova in January 2016. If I hadn’t gotten sent to school early on a Saturday morning in the frigid January weather, where I first met Sr. Cordova, I wouldn’t be sitting in a Starbucks in the Lima airport, surrounded by some of my closest friends, typing this piece right now. Its funny how things that seem so small at the time have such a resounding impact on life in the future.

As we near the departure of our flight back to the United States, I am filled with a deep sense of happiness at the result of this trip. I am sure most of the people around me would agree that this trip is a life changer that will have permanent impacts not only on us Brophy boys, but on the people of El Augustino, Circa, Arequipa, and Wayra. This trip has been a blessing to my soul, and I cannot wait to continue to participate in trips like this so I can share my faith and help others.

 

-Will Winter

Final Day of Work

As our trip comes to an end, Brophy had the opportunity to complete one last day of work at a program called Wayra in Urcos, which is outside of Cusco. This after school program provides tutoring, extra curricular activities, and food to children in tough situations from ages 3-17. We separated into four different groups that worked on different projects with anything that the program needed to be done. The group I was apart of worked on placing plant holders on a balcony near the classrooms. Others placed the same pot holders on the walls of the compound and also moved rocks for a foundation to be added later to the compound. Today’s activity being the last of the trip, even though it was small, changed Wayra forever. One of the things that I was taught on this trip was that even though the work we did was little and how we only worked for a couple days, our work will change the lives of people here in Peru forever.

-Jackson Culver-Witt

Brophy Students Continue the Legacy of a Jesuit Committed to the Poor

Editor’s note: This is a 2016 repost of a blog entry written by Deacon Joe Stickney. It has been reposted to give background on the CIRCA school where we have gone everyday this week. All pictures are of the 2017 trip. – Mr. Londoño

 

On Thursday, June 23rd, with our full complement of 21 young men (Nik Kirk is back!), we rode up one of the hills surrounding Arequipa, where people recently-arrived from the mountains and rain forest have settled. There we visited a CIRCA school, where Brophy will be working next year to replace plywood classrooms with more solidly constructed ones.
CIRCA is an organization started by Jesuit Father Carlos Spallarossa Pozzo, SJ. Today it is a network of 35 schools, 8 orphanages, 2 clinics and 23 parishes, most of which were started by Father Pozzo, all in the poorest areas of Arequipa and other locations. there are over 17, 000 children in school who otherwise would not be or who would have to travel far. Throughout its history, over 450,000 children have been educated by CIRCA schools.

Farther Pozzo’s story is inspirational. His family immigrated to Peru from Italy when he was 18. He quickly became a street salesman, selling old products as if they were new. A teacher who worked with him for 35 years remarked that he had the ability to take an old horse, brush its teeth and sell it as a foal.
At the age of 28, one of his businesses failed, so he decided to try a new one, the Jesuit priesthood. Father Carlos Rodriguez Arana, SJ, principal at Colegio San Jose, told a story about how in his first 5 days as a Jesuit, young Pozzo showed how headstrong he was. He had decided that the religious life was not suited to him, so he packed his bags and walked away from the Novitiate. On the road, he encountered an elderly priest who convinced him to give it another shot.


And shoot he did. Soon after ordination, Fr. Pozzo dedicated himself to the poor who were migrating to the city in droves from poor mountain towns and rainforest villages. He started building schools, adding his own “sweat equity,” loading sand in his cassock, pushing wheelbarrows and carrying bricks on his shoulders with the workers. His conniving skills proved useful in convincing officials and donors alike to buy into his vision.
He cajoled others often with his humor, but he could be firm as well. Another CIRCA co-worker recalled that if Father Pozzo was not joking, something was wrong, and everybody was looking around to see what needed to be fixed.
After having read his biography, I am reminded of the good-natured but focused qualities of our own director, Mr. Richard Cordova. He wakes us up each morning with salsa music blaring from his I-Pad, singing his own version of “Digo Sí, Señor (I say Yes, My Lord).” Yet his vision for the students is strong: Next year will will return to this CIRCA school to build new classrooms! (We are currently constructing a brick wall around the school to help protect the property along with other tasks- Mr. Londoño)

 

 

Jugando Con Los Niños

Work at CIRCA has been inspirational and physically demanding for every individual working. For the past few days, my classmates and I have been working to build walls and to participate in other taxing activities. Not only has the work been hard, but it has also been spiritual to each student. Throughout the week, there have been many takeaways from the work and children. One of these takeaways include the last hour of our work day throughout the week in which even though the Brophy students are exhausted from working hard, we still find time to play sports with the children after their school lets out. The moment when the children race over to us while we are relaxing, their smiles rejuvenate and restore our energy to play with them for an additional half hour. No matter how much work was done in the previous hours, we still find time to hang out with the other children before having to leave. Even with having so little to spare, the students learning at CIRCA would not let those factors lower their desire to learn and engage themselves into some of the work that we have been doing during their breaks throughout the day. To me, the greatest impact on my life while working at CIRCA would have to be the teachers. Every weekday, the teachers show up to the school in order to educate the students. Even while teaching, they still acknowledge and accept the fact that there is a large possibility that they could find work at a school with more resources, yet they choose to educate the CIRCA students. Even though this seems like a small affect to other people, I will continue to embrace and incorporate these feelings into my daily life style for the rest of my existence. -Nicholas Kavanaugh

 

Breakin´ Boulders

Upon arrival at the CIRCA work site, my group and I were assigned with the task of clearing the ditch of large rocks. During the process, we had to pry out rocks from the sides of the ditch to allow for a smooth building process. Necessary tools for this task were large poles for slipping in between the dirt and the rock to eventually pry the rock out, a pick ax, and a sledgehammer. After getting the huge rocks out of the side of the ditch, we had to move them out of the work area. These boulders weighed hundreds of pounds, so it was necessary to take sledgehammers and split the rocks open after many hits. The task was physically grueling, but after some reflection, I also encountered how the task was personally significant. For me, I have never had an experience like this Peru trip. I have never been out of North America in my life, let alone without my family or doing something of this magnitude. When contemplating, I thought to myself that the rocks were very similar to the trip as a whole for me. This trip was originally out of my comfort zone, and it was something I did not see myself doing a year ago. Now, I have taken almost 3 weeks out of my summer to help others in much greater need than I am. The rocks took a lot of time to break down, but ultimately felt very good in the end, knowing we were going to keep these innocent kids safe. Similar to finally breaking the rocks down to movable size, this trip has been and will be so personally satisfying for me. Helping others and seeing this totally unique part of the world was something I needed to experience at this point in my life to truly see the struggle of others and to show me that “issues” I think that I have in my life are so irrelevant and minute in the grand scheme of things.
Interacting with the children during breaks and after the work day has been a highlight of my time in CIRCA. Seeing the hope that we provide to the kids has brought joy to me but has also saddened me because of the fact that we are only with them for 5 days. Making the kids happy has made me happy. The fact that we will not be able to continue that, and that they have to continue with a difficult lifestyle makes the experience bittersweet. The students are so energetic and ecstatic with our presence that it truly makes us feel good and connected with them. Realizing that the connection we have is so short is tough on my heart as I truly love interacting with kids. Seeing the students laughing and smiling with such limited resources makes leaving them very depressing. As our time in Arequipa comes to a close, working in CIRCA helped me open my eyes and grow as a person, both physically and spiritually. -Josh Belgrad

 

Bubbles

June 13th was the second day of our work in Circa. Today, my group would be playing and entertaining 6th and 5th graders. Throughout ‘class time’ we played many games of volleyball, heads up seven up, and hangman. It was truly a blessing to spend time with these kids, especially to see their faces light up at the sight of a brand new volleyball. The most touching and humbling activity I did with these kids was blowing bubbles. It is probably one of the simplest activities in the world. As soon as I pulled out my 8 pack of “Super Miracle Bubbles,” the kids immediately took interest and asked me what I was holding. I will never forget the looks on their faces when I started to blow bubbles. Again and again they asked me to blow more bubbles, so they could chase them around and try to catch them. As I held down the little stick with a circle on one end to let the kids blow their own bubbles, I was completely surrounded. All of them waiting for the chance to blow a bubble probably for the first time in their lives. The name of the bubbles says it all, it was truly a miracle to give these kids a chance to see and play with something new, something to me that only seemed like a simple toy, but to them, lit up their whole world. – Andrew Main

 

Alonso and My New Family

When I walked out of the security gate and saw Alonso, I knew I was revisiting a friend that I had known for a long time. My friends and family have been in the back of my mind the entire trip; when we flew to Lima, I felt a little homesick. This all changed. The sight of my host family made me feel completely relieved and excited for the remainder of the trip. I met my host’s mother, who I had heard much about, and we drove to their Arequipan home. Alonso and his family made me feel safe, happy, and comfortable. After we ate dinner, the family showed me to my room: In one of the largest bedrooms, a large queen-size bed had been prepared, and sets of drawers, a desk, and a bathroom had been made available to me. After dinner, I put on pajamas, Alonso and I played video games, and we caught up on our lives. Everything about my first encounter with this family gave me joy and appreciation for what they were doing for me. The next morning, I was awoken by a soft knock on the door and dropped off at San Jose, a Jesuit school Alonso attends. En route, I was able to see just a small sliver of the beauty of Arequipa: the enormous snow-covered mountains and volcanoes that tower over the city, the crystal-blue sky, the fast-running river that cuts through the bustling metropolis. Particularly, the reduction in traffic from Lima helped Arequipa earn the number-one spot on my list of favorite Peruvian cities. At San Jose, I was greeted my everyone in a welcoming matter, and by the end of my first day, I had gotten to know lots of people in my class. The combination of my generous host family, the calmness of Arequipa and the sense of community that radiates from San Jose added to my energetic feelings about Peru and has helped me refocus on the trip ahead. Prior to my arrival in Arequipa, I often thought of the length of the trip and was not fully engaged in the present. Arequipa has reminded me that I need to live in the here and now.

Sean McClaine

A Day in CIRCA

On Tuesday in the CIRCA School, my group and I were tasked with playing games with the kids. During the week the groups rotated being in the classrooms or building a much needed wall to surround the school. It was an incredible experience because the kids were so happy that we were there and they were so excited to play with us. I enjoyed jumping rope with all of the little kids, which my dad would be proud of, shout out to you dad! Working with the kids was a lot of fun, but the most impactful thing that day happened in the last thirty minutes of work. During those last thirty minutes our group was picking weeds in the play area so it looked a little nicer. While I was doing that, the kids that we had just been playing with were on their break and they came up to me and my group. Though they were speaking in Spanish, I figured out they were saying that they were going to help. The kids started to pick the weeds with me and I challenged them to see who could get the biggest pile. It turns out it wasn’t me! The kids were pulling up these huge weeds that I thought were just plants, so they won. I have never seen children so happy to help with so called chores. This was so impactful to me along with my whole experience so far on this Peru immersion trip. – Campbell Helt

The True Value of Wealth

 

Upon arriving in Arequipa I didn’t know what I felt. In the airport in Lima I was feeling a little homesick and was, in the back of my mind, contemplating buying a ticket for the US and spending the night in the airport. Obviously it was a far fetched idea and one I never would have or could have executed. I was now in Arequipa, that idea left behind in the Lima airport. I was facing living for a week and a half with a new family. I was cautious and full of trepidation. That night I had some time to meet my new family, my brother Sebastian (“Sebas”) and his father Jose. But, his mother and three sisters were fast asleep. The next morning, while eating breakfast, I had a chance to meet them all. The youngest is small, boisterous, cute and very nice. Her name is Ariana. She also has down syndrome.

Ariana is highly functioning, can speak and understand some Spanish and goes to school with her two other sisters. She is always happy as can be, has a killer laugh, and loves to draw. Before coming on this trip, I spent some time doing work with Miracle League of Arizona. It is a great organization and you should check it out if you haven’t already heard of it. With this organization, volunteers spend time providing a fun environment for people with special needs of all ages, in all levels of competitiveness to play a baseball game every night, week, or weekend. From my experience with this group and the several children I worked with, I understand that providing a satisfying, developed life for many people with special needs sometimes requires a large amount of time, money, and patience. So, as I watched Ariana skip away from the breakfast table the first time I saw her, the thought entered my mind and has not left since. How can a family who doesn’t appear to have a car (we have only taxied, walked, or bused to places so far), whose father works a full time job that requires him to travel constantly, and a mother who also works full time, all while sending their four children to Jesuit and private schools, afford the time and money to take care of and provide for Ariana? How can the millions of people in poverty across Peru afford to take care of their loved ones who might have a condition or illness that affects their lives? Maybe I am missing something. Maybe I am being insensitive or ignorant or something. I don’t know. What I do know is that both their parents work full time jobs, and send their kids to expensive private schools, with a home to return to that doesn’t have any refrigeration. That only has warm water in the afternoon. In my Church in the Modern World class, we talked a little about the poverty we might see. How most people even the “wealthy ones” like the family I am currently living with don’t have nearly the same luxuries we might enjoy in the U.S. But what is wealth? Are there many types of wealth? And then what I think might be the answer to my questions hit me. It’s the same reason why neighbors of those whose houses we were rebuilding in El Augustino worked shoulder to shoulder with us, why their little niñas smiled when we high fived them for moving some wood or laughed when they tried to teach us to dance, or why we hugged each of our Lima friends who we hosted in our houses multiple times before leaving Lima, and it’s why our parents back in the U.S. work every day to send us to Brophy. I think the answer is about compassion and happiness. The people here in Peru may not have a wealth of monetary value but they do have happiness, love and joy with each other. It’s why they work so hard, because they love each other and still can live happy lives even in the squalor conditions that they might live. I think it shows how similar our two cultures are. Hopefully we can bring some of that love home. I don’t know if this is the right answer, or the only answer, maybe it’s a little soppy, but it’s what I’ve been thinking about, so maybe it’s one piece to the puzzle.

-Matt Whitehouse

 

La Pared

Nosotros construimos una pared a lado de una nueva casa. Nosotros trabajamos por muchas a ayudar la familia en el Agustino. Tenemos muchas rocas y no más espacio. Entonces los hombres con quien trabajamos recomiendan que yo construya una pared. Cuando usamos el martillo neumático y destruimos las rocas nosotros apilamos las rocas y usamos la tierra. Este trabajo hace posible crear una nueva casa. Cuando nosotros trabajamos en un equipo todo posible ayudar muchas personas.
-Graham Tait

Before:

Current progress:

After: