perudonations.org Blog

November 2, 2009

Travelblog Number 11.1.2K9.1

Filed under: Lisa´s recon mission codename ¨Finding Presli¨, PDC News — Administrator @ 9:01 am

I got up at about 10 AM, still on Hawaii time and travel-weary.  I got some food in the street and grabbed a combi to Chupaca.  Armed with my iPod photos, an old address for Ely and the memory of a photo she had sent me of Presli´s mom´s house, I set out to look for him.  Using the information that the girl in Lima had given me, I got off in front of the Comisaria of Chupaca (from what I can gather, it´s like the Sherriff´s office).  Anyway, Presli´s photo was not posted there as she had described, nor did the two officers there know what I was talking about.  One of them went with me into the street to ask around.  I showed his photo to several people who told me that they had seen him ¨down that way, but mostly in the evenings¨.  Undaunted, I proceeded to walk down the dog, merchant and drunkard-filled road until I came to someone who swore that he visits the clinic at the end of the block.  So to the clinic I went.  The clerk did not know his name or his address, but she said she thinks he lives in Pincha and to ask the taxi guys at the corner.

I did and one of them, William Quinones, said that he knows pretty much where Presli lives.  I jumped in and he took me further and further into the farming village, asking people along the way.  We were led up a hill, past a little church to this very narrow lane.  He asked some kids on bikes and they told us to go to the house just near the top of the hill.  We went to where they showed us and as I looked out the window, I immediately recognized the photo of the mom´s house that Ely had sent.  Excited, I jumped out of the taxi and asked the kids if they´d go knock to see if anyone is home.  She´s not home, they said, ´but here she comes on the road´.  Sure enough, I looked to the road below that we had just been on and there was a lady and a young girl making their way up the hill.

When she got to to the top of the hill, I asked if she was Presli´s mom and she said YES! and gave me a hug without even asking who I was.  Turns out, she assumed that I was from the orphange.  I explained to her who I am, about my mom and I forming PDC for Presli´s cause and why I was here.  She was filled with emotion, but I could tell that she had a lot of pain and guilt in her heart.  We talked for a few minutes and then set out to look for Presli.  We went to a neighbor´s house where he sometimes hangs out, but he was not there.  Eventually, he turned up, having returned from watching the neighbor´s bulls (he works for tips keeping the bulls in line – how exactly a kid of 110 pounds manages that, I can´t figure). 

He was timid and didn´t recognize me.  I showed him a picture of mom and I that I had on the iPod and he had some spark of recognition.  The three of us talked for another 2 hours or so and I got more details of his life.  I told Presli about what we are intending to do for him.  I made it very clear to him that his whole life will change, not only because of the surgery and emotional therapy that will be provided for him, but also that during the process, he will be in pain, away from his family and friends, not able to go out and do whatever, and that he will be in a strange place where he will not be well-understood.  I told him to think about it very hard.  I reminded him that it´s not going to happen soon, because we lack the funding and the paperwork at this point to give him a date, but that it is in the works and that we have not forgotten about him. 

By the end of the two hours, I had gained his confidence enough for him to let me take his picture, including photos of the keloids that his 2007 surgery in La Oroya had left on his neck.  I am concerned that if he tends to develop keloids, that he might have a scarring problem when they do his face as well.  I am going to forward the photos to his surgeons so that they can make provisions to avoid this side-effect of getting him fixed up.

Having exchanged phone numbers and ideas, I then set out to find Ely.  The taxista had been with me for 2 and a half hours, so I paid him the standard 10 soles per hour.  Just under $9 is a very fair price, I think, to have helped me find Presli on the first day I am here, no?

Back in the main square of Chupaca, I hired a minitaxi to take me to Ely´s last known address.  He took me there, but the address did not exist.  Figuring that I´ll be able to find someone who knows Ely or her program, PLE, I got out and again set out asking everyone.  There was an older lady outside at the time who didn´t know Ely, but a young woman playing with friends at the corner not only knew Ely, but her uncle had rented them the house across the street.  She said that Ely and Nilton now live ¨in that house down there with the orange roof and the yellow trim¨.  I held myself back from running, when she added, that she hadn´t seen Ely in a few days. ¨Perhaps she is still in the hospital for giving brith¨.  WHAT!?! They´re having a baby?!  No wonder we haven´t heard from her! 

Not sure if they will even be home today at all, I went and knocked on the door.  Nothing.  I waited for a few minutes and knocked again.  Still nothing.  Well, I haven´t eaten for a few hours, I thought, I´ll just walk down that way to see what I find.  I walked down a few blocks and saw the smoke and heard the sounds of a festival of sorts, so I headed down the hill next to the river.  Down at the bottom of the hill is a cemetary, and being All Saint´s Day, there was indeed a small festival going on.  I thought that I might find Ely and Nilton here, but then I realized that their families are not from Chupaca, and that if they are indeed celebrating, that they would be in HYO instead.  Still with time to kill, I had a plate of cuy (photos to follow) and relaxed in the shade a while.

I walked back up the hill to their house, hoping to find someone.  Nothing.  I went back to the store and the girl assured me that it was their house.  Her father, Felix, showed up just then and confirmed that it´s their house, as it is he who takes Andre to school every morning and takes Nilton to the Village Schools every afternoon.  I asked for an internet place and spent another hour waiting there.

At about 6 ´clock it was getting dark.  If they were not home, I needed to head back because I didn´t want to be on the combi alone in the dark to HYO.  I went to the house and found the lights on.  One knock at the door and Nilton opened it tentatively.  He immediately recognized me and gave me the BIGGEST hug!  He took me to the room in the back of the courtyard, where Ely and just returned from a 10 day stay in the hospital.  Little Josue was laying there perfectly perfect on the bed.  The look on Ely´s face was unforgettable! 

We caught up for a while and exchanged phone numbers.  They explained to me that situation that they´re in due to having no volunteers and that they have had to move twice in the last three years to keep up with their bills.  Their website and email were hacked and their phone numbers have changed a few times.  They were kind of embarassed for having dropped out of touch, but they assured me that they were still working with Presli and Merardo.  She gave me some sad news about Presli that makes me even more motivated to get his treatments started.  Ely got a phone call just then and she left.  Nilton continued: As for Merardo, he had just seen him the prior Friday when Merardo went to visit Nilton to see if he could raise the handlebars on the bike that the French and Spanish classes of Castle in 2007 had bought for him.  Nilton did not have a hex key/Allen wrench, so he couldn´t adjust it.

Ely returned from her phone call and she said that she must be the most sought-out person in the world today.  I laughed and added that people come from as far away as Hawaii to find her!  After a humble dinner of undercooked rice and a fried egg with rolls and hot tea, Nilton accompanied me back to HYO on the combi.  During the ride, he shared more good news about Merardo.  His family has been given a peice of land and his father has already constructed two rooms on it.  They hope to finish it as soon as possible, since there are now 6 children.  Merardo wants to be an engineer, but he is horrible with math.  It took him three tries to pass the first level of basic math, two to pass the second level and now he is still struggling in the fourth level.  Nilton and others have tried to counsel him to change his aspirations to something more attainable.  The poor kid is very influencible by his peers and changes his mind literally day to day.  I suggested to Nilton that they have him take an aptitude test two or three times to accomodate for poor sleep, peer pressure, etc, take the most common results and go from there.  He is going to look into it.  

Nilton also shared that Presli is hanging around with older kids who give him cigarettes and alcohol, confirming what Presli´s mom, Hilda, and Ely had already told me.  I can totally understand why Presli would find a group who would accept him and do whatever they do to stay ´in´, but this is the wrong direction for him.  I need to impress on him the importance of avoiding these vices so that, with our help, he can find the best life for himself and his family.

Well, a very successful day.  Now for BED!  (No shower today, although I have Chupca dust all over me, I just can´t take the cold).

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