• April 22, 2010

Charlotte I. - Peru 2010-2012

From Montgomery, AL - Mission in Peru 2010-2012

One of the most pop­ular ques­tions that we are asked as Heart’s Home vol­un­teers is why we decided to join the mis­sion. My answer is always the same, “When I walked through the door of the Heart’s Home in Brooklyn, I encoun­tered true sin­cerity for the first time in my life.” Honestly, it was not until I came face to face with this sin­cerity that I real­ized its absence in the world around me; yet it is exactly what everyone yearns for: for someone to take a sin­cere interest in them, to hold their hand, to listen to their life story, to look them in their eyes, to laugh, to cry with them.

Our cul­ture often tries to val­i­date our lives quan­ti­ta­tively. Before departing for Peru, people often crossed their eyes as I explained to them that I was not going to build a house, teach English classes, nor dole out free med­ical sup­plies, some­times causing me to have doubts. However now having lived this mis­sion of com­pas­sion for 18 months, I have no doubt that a sin­cere encounter with another is truly price­less.

The flow of life in my neigh­bor­hood, Barrios Altos, passes out­side in the street: men work in the street, women cook in the street, chil­dren play in the street, and the elderly sit on little benches in the street; and yet there are people who are lonely in the street. The other day I stopped for a second to say hello to Senora Irma, who is always seated in a chair out­side of her house. She imme­di­ately grabbed my hand and begged me to sit next to her, telling me frankly that she was sad and needed to talk to someone for a little bit. I did nothing more than sit on the side­walk beside her, touch her hand, talk about how she had always lived on the same street, and offer a small prayer. Forty-five min­utes later, her tears that I encoun­tered had been trans­formed to a smile and she told me that she now had the will to con­tinue the after­noon in peace.

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