By Sarah F., volunteer in Lima
I am really learning here that everyone has a childlike innocence that wants to be fed with love. A very close friend who is a perfect example of this search for love is Rigoberto. We sometimes call him Papi Lindo because he always calls us mami or papi lindo (which means nice or pretty girl or boy). Papi Lindo does not have a wife or a family. He does not have a car or a house. He owns his plastic bag of Tupperware, rags, and his alcohol. He is always found drinking in the afternoons by his bus stop at the base of the hill. Many people harass him, call him drunk or crazy, or merely look at him and treat him as though he has no value. But here in our house, we see a whole other side to Rigoberto.
He comes to our home some mornings and he politely asks us to shave his beard. He buys his disposable razor in the market and we take him to the patio and help him shave. Each time I am surprised by his true innocence: always saying please and thank you and praising us as we attempt to shave him. After, he likes to use our sink to clean his hat, and sometimes has time to drink a cup of tea with us before leaving. This supposedly “drunk” friend is one of the most faithful and grateful people we know. Always beyond excited to see us in the streets with a kiss on the hand and a kind word or two. He feels respected in our house. He is able to accept this affection that we offer him and opens his heart to love us in return.
To be honest, I could explain almost every relationship we have here and how they all originate from this innocent search for love. From the kids who attack us with dirty hands and millions of kisses to the boys we visit in the juvenile prison who make us bracelets and laugh with us for hours.