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Te Amamos, Peru. Reflections from the Peru 2011 Team

Following are the thoughts and reflections of most the 2011, Peru YouthLinc Team for each day of our trip. Enjoy 🙂
” I want to summarize my feelings about the trip. Being the team leader was an awesome experience. No doubt it had it’s crazy times trying to keep track of 35 other team members. I think just trying to stay on schedule and make last minute decisions was one of the most difficult things I had to do. This has also been one of the most rewarding times of my life to see a group of strangers get on the plane in SLC and then get off the plane 15 days later as friends for life. We were able to accomplish so much in two weeks. We poured over 800 feet of concrete, painted four different building inside and out, provided hundreds of pounds of clothing-shoes-humanitarian kits-education kits-medical supplies and so many other things to the villages of Palmeras, Santa Rosa, and Yanamono. It was so amazing to see how hard everyone worked and also played together. Jenny’s accident made us so much stronger and much closer as a team. I sincerely hope this trip has made all of us appreciate what we have and made us committed to becoming life-time humanitarians. What a great team and an amazing group of people. It was my privilege to be your leader.”
-Jeff Daun


Monday, July 4th:
“We started out in the Lima airport at 12 am. Between our own personal luggage carry-one and youthinc duffels our group took up a whole lot of space where ever we were. Interesting to see the different ways we handled being exhausted-crashing anytime a head could land on a wall, pillow, bag or shoulder to breaking out in full song to staring into space. Buses came to load our stuff and we drove to Iquitos. Type of transportation for the Peruvians…mosquitos. They were everywhere, along with motorcycles. No helmets, babies often in arms. Buildings were painted bright colors which gave so much character to the city and people. We stayed at the Hotel Regina in Iquitos. After a much needed nap and lunch, I went with Freddy, Elle, and Paul to explore. A woman was sitting working on a beautiful table runner-spread out on the ground and foliage in front of her was many more. She said each one takes about 2 months to make and yet they were only $30-the buckets in front of her were red dye. Later on I went exploring again with Nathan, Lindsay, Kim, Anna, Lauren, and Freddy. We were approached by a young man asking if we wanted to go for a boat ride. All of the sudden I had 4 pairs of eyes looking at me for permission. Oh yeah! I am an adult 🙂 So I said yes and he left to see if the boat was there. When he didn’t return, we assumed he didn’t really have a boat, so we left. About 5 minutes later he tracked us down and I am so glad he did! We got on his boat, balanced it out so we didn’t tip and off we went. It was beautiful, blue sky, soft breeze, small boats of fisherman everywhere. He was low on gas so we pulled over to a gas station floating on the river. We saw floating houses and people bathing and just a glimpse of how their lives are. The boat stalled and we watched him pull and pull and pull-good thing they don’t flood the engine. I was nervous although the rest of the crew were calm. After a few silent prayers and a lot of pulling we were off again. Freddy even got to drive! ~Una Vida~

I have this overwhelming feeling of happiness in Peru and I am so glad I made the decision to come. I am learning so much and can’t wait to work and meet the people of Palmeras.”
-Jenny Jones
Tuesday, July 5th:
“We left in the morning on 3 river boats and headed towards Heliconia, our home for the next 11 days. The sound of the motor put most of us to sleep and we headed out into the Amazionian mist. We arrived first at the small village of Santa Rosa to look at the previous Youthlinc Projects. It was incredible to see the people waiting for us with signs and smiles. We had left a good impression on them before, so they were clearly excited to see us again. The children grabbed our hands, laughed and smiled, and from that moment on I knew this would be a life changing experience, and this wasn’t even the village we would be working in.”




Wednesday, July 6th:
“Today was our first day in Palmeras. I was so excited to go back and see the people. I was kind of nervous that they wouldn’t remember me. When we pulled up in the boats, they were waiting for us and playing music. When we started to greet them I recognized a lot of people. This little girl from last year named Leddy came up to me and took my hand. It was so amazing to me that after a whole year she remembered me as a friend and was excited to see me. It made me feel so good to know they didn’t forget me because I know I will never forget them. They all have such a big influence on my life. Hopefully I was and will be able to make a big difference in their lives. It’s so crazy to me how open and friendly they are, even to strangers. I watched some of the interactions of other students with the kids and it’s so amazing to see how the people of Palmeras respond so happily and easily. I love hearing them sing and watching them do their native dance for us. They are all so excited to perform for us. I love how easily you can interact with them even though there is a language barrier. Its crazy how the simplest things like head, shoulders, knees, and toes or ring around the rosey are so much fun to them. They get joy over the littlest things and it had made me realize to not take for granted what we have because we are so blessed! In the afternoon we did the clothing drive and of course it was a major ordeal. It was so fun to help the people, especially the little kids pick out new outfits. You could tell they were so grateful and excited. I noticed quite a few parents grabbing stuff for their kids rather than themselves. The people here are truly amazing. We can learn so much from them because they really know what true happiness is. ”
-Tori Daun

“Today I saw the power of play transcend language and cultural barriers and was all inclusive-small child to elder.” -Robbie Levine


Thursday, July 7th:
Yet another great day in Peru! Today was a fun day. We had the medical fair. I’m on the medical committee so I helped teach. My group did hygiene and I talked about the importance of washing your hands and when and how to properly do it. I really enjoyed the whole thing and I think it went really well – very effective. It still boggles my mind how different my life is from these people’s. We gave them some supplies today (toothbrushes, band aids, etc) and the mothers were so excited. Kilee helped pass out the kits and she said that a lot of women were thanking her with kisses. They are so thankful. My life is so easy. I’ve had these things my entire life and have never thought twice about it. I am so blessed, but these people are so much better for it. Of course I want to help them as much as I can, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to do so, but these people, when it comes down to it, are better than I am. They are so humble, loving, grateful, and accepting. The list of their great qualities goes on but I know that I want to be like them. It would be so hard for me to live the way they do. I really admire them. I think being here is already affecting us. Today we started pouring concrete to lengthen their sidewalk and as I was helping, so many of the other volunteers were asking me if they could take my place or help somehow. I was just really impressed. They’re all such awesome kids! Nobody does it for themselves, they just genuinely want to help. After Palmera today we came back to the lodge for lunch and Nathan taught some of us how to do boondoggle. I made one for one of the boys I made friends with at the village. They are the cutest kids! I’m really going to miss them when we leave. We also visited Yanamono today (another village Youthlinc helped out at a few years ago). It was actually pretty nice. It was much cleaner and put together than the other villages we’ve been to. The kids there sang to us and then we all bought some crafts and things from them and played some soccer/football and volleyball. It was way hot and everyone was sweating so much, but it was so much fun! I loved playing volleyball with them! I got a chance to talk with some of the other girls on the trip tonight and get to know them each a little better. I really look up to these kids. Each one of them has such amazing qualities. And they’re all so fun to be around so that’s a bonus. Tonight the staff at Heleconia played the guitar, drum box, and maracas for us and sang. It was a lot of fun. They’re very good. It was so much fun! Victor (one of our guides) got us all to dance. He’s so funny. I love him! I love all of the staff. They are such nice people. This is such a cool experience to meet so many people. I’m so happy to be here!
-Kim Gourley
“We are several days into this trip and still I can hardly believe I’m here. After months of hard work and preparation we’re finally able to see what it was all for. Each day here has brought new experiences and I’m sure that will continue. I’m so proud of these students for showing a desire to do service work, but also for doing it together as a group. The group has come together so quickly and you can see life long friendships forming.
Today we were able to visit Yanamono, a village Youthlinc served several years ago. We were able to see how the people of this village have maintained the work that Youthlinc did and also how much appreciation they have for the Youthlinc organization. They have leveled a soccer field adjacent to the river. We had brought donated soccer balls to the village and decided we would play a game against the locals. What an experience that was! Who else can say they’ve played a soccer game in the amazon jungle against local Peruvians and won?! It’s amazing how people who come from such different walks of life with language barriers are still so much the same.
YouthLinc as an organization, provides such an amazing opportunity for the youth and young adults. I’m lucky and grateful to be a part of it.” -Elizabeth Lehman
















Friday, July 8th:
“Today was our first normal day in the village. We rotated through pouring cement, working on the bridge and painting their primary school. I started the morning working with Freddy to carry huge wood planks from where they were cut and shaped down to where the bridge is in progress. I am really excited for the village to have this bridge because it will enable them to travel to the health clinic during the rainy season.
After our first rotation we came back to our fantastic lodge for lunch. I absolutely adore Heliconia Lodge. I honestly would live here if I could. It is so peaceful and pretty. We then went to back to Palmeras and Adam and I taught our lesson on animals. Honestly I was really nervous before we taught, but it was probably the coolest thing I’ve done so far!
I felt like we were really teaching them, and they were so intelligent, we only had to tell them the English name of an animal once and they remembered it, even at the end of the lesson. What amazed me was how eager all the kids were to learn. We played lots of games and we were all laughing super hard. We had them act out animals and at first they were embarrassed but by the end everyone was in to it!
After we got back from the village we went on a boat ride during the night. It was so peaceful out there, I felt like we were all alone, especially with all the lights turned off. Although we didn’t see any animals we heard some really loud frogs and monkeys. Tomorrow night we get to go on a jungle walk! super excited!”
-Eliza Hard
“I love working with the people in the village, it can be a lot of hard work but then you just take a minute and realize that they are working just as much and probably more and are doing it with happy smiles and a great attitude. It is even nice to see how patient they are with me and let me help even though they could probably do it twice as fast and better. The kids are very sweet and extremely generous. They easily brighten your day. I went there in the morning really upset and in a bad mood but the moment those kids came up and smiled, ready to play and work. I couldn’t help but feel better. I was helping out with education in the morning, making sure kids paid attention and stuff and there was one particular kid that I had to keep finding out where he went and chasing him. I thought he hated me but at the end of the day he gave me a bracelet. The people here really appreciate everything we do for them. I can’t imagine anything better I could be doing with my time right now.”
-Elle Gregerson

(Day of School Kit/Bag Distribution)

Saturday, July 9th:
“I came on this trip because I wanted an international service experience. I got that. And so much more. I think coming into YouthLinc I was not sure what to expect-I knew I would be working and making lots of friends and at the same time doing a lot of good for others. This trip has blown me away everyday. I honestly have never worked so hard, sweated so much, or been so exhausted. But I have also never loved a group of people so much, loved my work with my whole entirety, or felt so completed. To say the least, this trip has been emotional. ha.
Today like everyday I had a blast playing with the children and talking to the adults in the village. I have no words to express my feelings for Palmeras and its people, and also my fellow YL members.” -Ben Harries
Sunday, July 10th
“The day began well. To stretch out our sore muscles, Freddy and I did some yoga to welcome the day. After breakfast, we went to the village. Freddy and Anna amazed their students about the world-where they lived and what the continents look like, and Lilly and Jaerok taught travel- we introduced modes of transportation and sights to see around the world. Later, I helped move sand across the bridge to build a cement side-walk. We had a restful night Dolphin watching and piranha fishing and enjoyed each other’s company.”
-Paul Mueller
“Today was full of both excitement and relaxation. For breakfast we had eggs with green beans which were delicious and perfect for the day to come. After a morning of hard work we were scheduled for fishing and dolphin but not before. Anna and I gave the kids a great lesson on cultures around the world. Anna was a rock star and brought a giant blow-up beach ball of the world. It was a huge hit. Luckily the majority of the students were unfamiliar with the globe so we had a ball of a time teaching them about the continents and language and customs in each one. Afterwards, we let the children plan an organized game of “everybody hit the ball” for a bit, which everybody loved. Overall it was pretty successful but being a sunday the attendance of students was a little less than usual.

Then off we went up the river towards ecuador! After 20 minutes we pulled of into a temporary tributary in which we started calling for dolphins which was way fun, and they were pink! It was an amazing experience, a lot of dolphins got really close to the boats. Then Vlady took us back to the Amazon where we went to another tributary and were given some rustic Amazonian fishing poles that consisted of a branch and fishing wire and a hook. My favorite part was using beef as bait. Unfortunately I did not catchy any piranhas but Jenny and a few others did. Anna caught the biggest one in the group and named it George. George was pretty good, but it was strange eating a piranha. Anyway, today was unforgettable, I also saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ll probably experience and we got some great pictures. Who knows what other experiences await in the jungle around me :)” -Freddy Novoa



Monday, July 11th:


All the sudden there was a downpour outside – torrential rain. The kids were so much fun – I just sat and took pictures of them playing around. A number of students went out to play too. After it calmed down a bit I went down to the cement and while it rained we poured cement – it was hard with the water but so much fun. I have a great time – my hand are still peeling from having them in the cement (oops). I love working hard, I love working my body and accomplishing things at the end of the day. I love the way people all come together to finish a project and to work together. I am beyond happy here in Palmeras. When it was time to leave for lunch Vladimer wanted a picture with me – because we were such a mess – mucho divertido!!

That afternoon we went to the library and read to kids. The lady who runs the library for the village is there for 3 years on a grant.”

-Jenny

“Today we went with a small group to deliver hygiene and education kits, and baby blankets to Santa Rosa. I helped pass out baby blankets that my friend, Sharon Durr, made. As we prepared to leave Utah, Sharon said, “As i packed each blanket, I hugged it and kissed it for each baby.” Sharon has been impressed about YouthLinc and decided to make baby blankets for this year’s trip. She made over 70, unique, beautiful baby blankets which we distributed to three villages and a clinic. Tears brimmed my eyes as I handed a blanket to each mother. I am so thankful that I had the chance to be here in the Amazon. Serving these beautiful people, I am also grateful for all the people who made it possible by donating money or supplies. Images of our “wild” packing meeting, where we crammed clothing, shoes, education kits, hygiene kits, medical supplies, newborn kits and baby blankets into large duffle bags which we carried through two airports to the Amazon. Now these bags are empty and I have never seen a more beautiful, fulfilling site then 36 empty duffle bags. ” -Ramona Daun

Tuesday, July 12th:
“The most amazing experience about this trip was the people. I have never met people who constantly think of others more than themselves. One experience I had was with a little boy named Haritz. I had let another boy play with one of my gloves. Then when it was time to leave I couldn’t find him. Haritz saw me doing this, and was gone, running somewhere. The next thing I know he is running towards me with my glove. Even though it was something simple it still touched me deeply. Haritz showed me pure service and love. I loved coming here and meeting the Peruvian people. They have taught me to be more accepthing of others and to do service with no reward. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to come and experience this. Thank you!” -Bri Price
“Peru has my heart. Rini, Miria, and Caroli and all their families have blessed my life. I have just been so touched by their ability to laugh amidst some pretty rough circumstances. They don’t have a lot of money. They don’t really have much technology, and their clothes and shoes are always falling apart. However, they work so hard and laugh always. They all have beautiful families and watch out for each other. I love the way they care for one another. Family is the center of their lives and I can see that. Before I came to Peru I really wasn’t sure exactly what I would be spending my time doing. But now, I can fully say we didn’t come to mess around. We do work. Pour concrete. Build a bridge. Hammer out pieces of metal. Carry water on our shoulders and sand buckets on our heads like the local women. It is truly a pleasure to get to play with the children.

I want to say how grateful I am for Jenny Jones. From day one of our committee meeting, I felt like we were in good hands. Today, Jenny was helping with the bridge construction and truly, bad luck came her way. As she was helping to haul the large planks of wood from the village to the river, she was walking by a large pile of them when they all fell on top of her. They fell on her head, chest, and neck the hardest. Quickly, the nearby YouthLinc members pulled the piles of wood off her head but the damage was bad. Blood all over her head and pain searing across her face. The second the news hit, the entire village came running to Jenny to help, and today she is in Iquitos for 10 days as her swelling brain, fractured ribs, collar bone, clebula, and neck begin their healing process. According to our mentors and local doctors, she is extremely lucky to be alive. I know that she is so strong.
Jenny was always thinking about others.

She made over 30 bags for our school kits we distributed, as well as fearlessly led our education team. She was willing to let the other team members go to Santa Rosa the other day to help take the extra bags and supplies to that village, even though she did more work than any of us collecting and making these supplies. I can count at least 6 times when I was in need of something and Jenny hopped right up to get it for me. Aleve, Lemonade packets, a picture I wanted taken, or a sip of her ice cold coke-a real treat amidts our daily intake of luke warm water in the freaking hot and humid Amazon. Jenny was always walking about, capturing photos of the villagers, the laughs and smiles of us all, and the daily moments in Palmeras that we all want to remember forever. Jenny worked her butt off in the village too. Though her Spanish is limited and as she says, “broken” I think she tried harder than anyone else to improve it, and tried so hard to communicate and connect with the villagers.
(WE LOVE YOU JENNY!!!!)
Though Jenny was technically our mentor, she felt more like a friend than anything. Basically Jenny rocks and everyone knows it.
She led us on an Iquitos boat ride that could have been the dumbest idea ever, but as Jenny agrees we only have “UNA VIDA” one life. Now that I have seen Jenny so close to ending that one life, I have a greater desire to live like she does. Smile, laugh, be optimistic, and passionate. Thanks Jenny, for helping the Youthlinc Peru crew 2011 remember to be passionate and give all we can until our “one life” is filled with nothing but service. We love you and pray you will heal well!
-Anna Solomon
Wednesday, July 13th:
Because of the accident, we are no longer working on the bridge, so concrete it is for everybody! All of the painting is also finished, so the rest of the people are teaching lessons. There was a lot of work, but also a lot of people, so we systematically rotated playing with the kids then doing concrete. Concrete made us all realize just how grateful we are for technology and the types of equipment we have for infrastructure in the U.S. Our tasks included: filling the cracks with concrete, shoveling sand, hauling sand from the river, hauling water from the river, hauling the actual concrete once it was mixed, pounding dirt and adding grass to the edges of the sidewalk, to make it look nice and enhance the growth in the future. The rest of our time we spent well…. playing and bonding with Palmeras, our favorite thing in the world:








Thursday, July 14th:
“It’s strange to think that this trip will be over in 4 days! So far, I wouldn’t change anything about this adventure: everything has been picture perfect and so inspiring. It’s going to be hard leaving and saying our goodbyes- I feel too close and connected to Palmeras and basically Peru as a whole, this trip. I’ve experienced so many incredible things that I know I will never forget and I will keep these lessons and memories close to my heart forever.
Today, everything started off as usual, but once we got to the village we all cracked down and got ready to do our last day of full work! Since the accident at the bridge, because all the painting is done, we’ve only been able to do concrete, which I think is great because there is so many of us just doing one job, so we were able to lay more feet than we originally thought and planned! At the end of today, we finished our last slab with a grand total of 800 ft. that we poured this trip! I couldn’t be more proud or happy of our hard work, its going to really pay off and help Palmeras.”
-Jillian Queri
“It’s amazing to see how hard everyone has been working these last few days even though it was tough in the hot sun. I love seeing how well everyone works together and, after these past two weeks, it seems like we’re just part of the community. The little kids running around yelling our names and grabbing our hands…the adults laughing with us as we try to carry water buckets on our shoulders…seeing how much they care about Jenny’s well-being. I’ve never met more accepting and caring people. It’s crazy how quickly we’ve become friends and it’s hard to believe that tomorrow we will be leaving these people. Goodbyes are always the hardest but I wouldn’t trade having the chance to get to know these people for anything. I’m also so grateful that I’ve become so close with the Youthlinc team and I love seeing how far we’ve come over the past two weeks.”
-Lily Robb

Friday, July 15th:
” Today has been amazing. We had the carnival and closing ceremonies which both went really well. Everybody seemed to love the carnival. I was stationed at the boot toss, where if they threw a hackey sac into a boot, they got a prize. We originally had a lot of little kid prizes but the “booth” was more popular with adults. So we got more adult prizes. The most popular prizes were the backpacks. It was really fun to watch how excited they got when they won a backpack. When we came back to the village in the afternoon, I think it became more real to everyone that this was the last time we would come to the village. The closing ceremonies were really great. Some of the young teenagers did a monkey dance for us. We also did a dance-the hoedown throwdown by miley cyrus. Some of the boys also did a lip sync and it was really funny. The village has been very concerned about Jenny, so at the closing ceremonies they had everybody stand up and listen to a prayer for her. After taking some pictures, we walked down to the palm tree laden with gifts. We danced around it and each took turns wacking it with a machete to cut it down. Once it fell, everyone got the chance to grab 1-2 things. It was time to say our final goodbyes. One little girl named Soice ran over to me and said “adios Shanna” while she wrapped her arms around my knees. It was really hard to leaver her as I have gotten very close to her. I am so grateful for this experience and the chance I have had to get to know all of these wonderful people in Peru. I’ll never forget them.”
-Shannon Rose









“The people of the village continue to amaze me with regards to their work ethic, kindness, and friendly attitudes towards everyone and everything. These are the kind of things that make me want to work that much harder, even when I’m exhausted and swimming in my own sweat.


I also am very grateful for all of the youthlinc teammates who are here to help every time help is needed and when something needs to be done. Each one of them are truly great and gracious people. On top of this, going to Palmeras each day makes me realize how lucky I am in my life back in the United States and how I need to be more appreciative. This trip has taught me so much and has brought me so many good things.”
-Cole Robbins

Saturday, July 16th:
“This morning we had our last breakfast at Heliconia lodge. I can’t believe our adventure is almost over! Before getting onto the boat for Iquitos we said goodbye to all the staff at Heliconia lodge. They have been so helpful and fun over the past 2 weeks. I feel like they are a part of our YouthLinc group. We finally all loaded onto the boats, but it feels weird to not be going back to Palmeras. I have enjoyed helping them so much. They are all so caring and accepting. I am going to miss arriving every morning to a group of children waiting to greet us, just waiting to help. Everyone in Palmeras had such beautiful and sincere smiles, seeing them always made the hard work easier!
When we arrived in Iquitos, we got on a bus to ride to Belen, a river bank where squatters live. It is so hard to believe that people can live in such poor conditions. In each household lives anywhere from 20 to 30 people, and there is trash everywhere. Seeing conditions like this makes me want to perform more service in my community and in the world.
After lunch and a short break at the hotel we went to a market. It is so fun to be with the group. I feel like everyone brings something unique to the table. We all get along so well and I’m so glad I had the chance to become such great friends with everyone.
Later, Saturday night we all went to one of the squares in Iquitos. There was music, fun stands, delicious food, and people everywhere! I had so much fun today, it was the perfect way to bring this life changing trip to a close.” -Emma Stephens
( saying goodbye to heliconia, visit to Belen and Iquitos)





Saturday, July 17th:
“Today is our last day in Peru. From the crack of dawn we were off and headed on a plane from Iquitos to Lima. The day was spent spending our last soles in the Lima international market and eating our last meal in country at Rosa Nautica, a fancy restaurant overlooking the ocean. As the day comes to an end, sitting in the airport, waiting for our flight home to depart, I imagine the rest of the students are reflecting on the past two weeks, just as I am. All of us have now experienced something so much bigger than ourselves and our daily lives back in Utah. We have had our eyes opened to just how vast the needs of the world are, and I am sure I am not the only one who feels that we will never be the same because of it. This trip has given me a whole new perspective, and I feel that this is just the beginning to a completely new part of my life. Service is no longer a pastime, but a priority. While it is harrowing to think of all the needs of the world, this experience has taught me that I am completely capable of making a major difference in the lives of others. Not only that, but the even bigger impact that helping others has on me.”
-Anna Vincent






Summary:
Palmeras Village
800 feet of concrete
Left and right side of bridge constructed
School, community center painted inside and out – murel painted on outside of school
new bookshelves in classroom– chalkboards painted
roof of medical clinic completed — new furniture for clinic arrived as we left
introduced frisbee
lasting lifeling friends made

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
~Anne Frank

Youthlinc

Youthlinc is a Utah-based 501c-3 nonprofit dedicated to creating lifetime humanitarians through local and international service. Learn more about our programs by visiting our website: www.youthlinc.org.

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