Alibi’s Ilene Style reports from her volunteer mission in South America
Irena, one of our abuelas, lives a a small house with dirt floors. She is almost blind. When Hermana Jacci and I arrived to visit her, she was attempting to rake the dirt (rake the dirt?) in her small front yard, but could not see what she was doing. Her house has two rooms. The larger room is furnished with a table and a few chairs. There is a bare mattress on the floor against the front wall, where her son, who lives with her, sleeps. However, when he drinks, he gets very violent, and she is afraid of him. Most of the time she hopes he will not come home, which happens often. She sleeps in the smaller room, on another mattress on the floor, across from a stove.
She needs to have one of the few teeth she has left pulled, but the dentist won't do it unless she is accompanied by a family member. The son who lives with her is too drunk to go, and her other sons apparently do not have the time. The first time we visited her, she had no food in the house, so Hermana Jacci and I went to the soup kitchen (comedor) and brought her something to eat. The second time we visited, she was drinking a cup of Sustenia, something similar to Ensure. Someone told her she should drink it because it had a lots of vitaminas in it, but it was very expensive. She bought it with money she made begging in the park. Quechua, the indigenous language of Peru, is her first language, so she is a bit difficult to understand as she mixes up Quechua and Spanish when she speaks. She is very affectionate, and is always appreciative when we come to visit.