The Work of Los Martincitos. Part II
Alibi’s Ilene Style reports from her volunteer mission in South America
The second part of my twofold volunteer assignment in Villa el Salvador is to go on home visits. These visits are the most interesting, and at times, the most heartbreaking part of my job.
On the two days of the week that Los Martincitos is closed, I accompany Sister (Hermana) Jacci, the nun who has helped run this incredible program for the past ten years, on home visits to see abuelos who, because of illness, immobility, or lack of transportation, cannot not make it to the center.
The store, which was no bigger than a bathroom, had an iron gate in front of it, which was locked. The store owner, rather then letting us in, asked what we wanted to buy (everything in the store was within arm's reach), and passed the items through the bars of the gate. Hermana Jacci said this was common in Villa el Salvador, because people might steal things if the store owner allowed customers to actually come inside. Although there is a commercial district in Villa with stores that are accessible to anyone, in the poorer areas where we do our homes visits, the stores are very small and might only carry basics like bread, milk, eggs, beverages, snacks—and ALWAYS Inka Kola, the national soda of Peru. Most residents shop for their regular groceries in outdoor mercados, as there are no supermarkets in Villa. Hermana Jacci told me that when she goes grocery shopping, she tells the meat vendor which live chicken she wants, and he then kills it right in front of her. At least she knows her food is fresh!
I've attached some photos of the family that I just described above. The first photo is the front of their house. The front door, a bit hard to locate, is white, and in the direct center of the photo. There is no roof in the first part of the house. The second photo is of Lucita (the little girl who answered the door) and Hermana Jacci buying food at the store that would not let anyone in. The third photo is of Lucita and her sisters. We're not sure what is wrong with her wrist, but she always wears a brace on it. The last photo is of Nicole, Lucita's mentally and physically challenged sister, She wears braces on her arms to prevent her from hurting herself, as she hits herself frequently when she doesn't wear them. She normally is strapped into her chair with a scarf. The family has no resources to help her, but Hermana Jacci would like to discuss options with her parents. We will stop by again next week.
I take photos during home visits only if I am given permission by the person living there. I have been admonished for taking pictures outside, because apparently it is dangerous to carry a camera in full view in some parts of Villa el Salvador. One volunteer had her camera stolen right out of her hands as she was snapping a picture while standing in the street. I try to be careful when I'm outside, but sometimes I can't help myself when I see an interesting shot. I will try to send more photos from Villa.