Can you believe our original plan about 5 years ago was to live in Bolivia for a year? In chatting to the Hildebrand seniors in the King Valley, the idea of visiting their son Harry in neighbouring Peru grew leaves. Then Greece evolved etc. So, plans changed. The summer before we left we had the pleasure of catching up with Harry, Vanessa and son Luka when they visited Australia. They live in Lima in Peru. Harry is the assistant principal of a large Britsh Peruvian school called Markham college, and Vanessa has an NGO working with kids gardens, spaces and permaculture principles on top of being a yoga teacher. Inspiring people doing awesome things in the world to say the least. We kept contact with Harry over our time away and in chatting to him two specific activities/attractions caught our imaginations. Harry and Vanessa are both biologists and Harry has started programs through his school in the Amazon, and building projects in an earthquake affected area south of Lima. Both were on our list. The following are reflections from the kids on how the building adventures played out. Mama Miliking
We went to Chincha with a school and helped them with a project where they build houses for people. This is because in 2007 there was an earthquake there. When we arrived we set up our tent which was like a circus tent.
The tents were in the mayors back yard and nearly all the grass space was used because there was more than 100 people staying there. After everyone set up our tents we went to our building sites. We were group 2 and Yasi and Toby were in Group 1. We had a house with two bedrooms and one living room to build. We built a house for Maria the mum and her two children Lesly and Jhordy. Before that they lived in a house made from bamboo screens with lots of other people. Lesly and Jhordy were really excited to have their own room.
My favourite thing about the building was painting. We had so much to paint like the outside walls and the roof. We put the house Up and the roof On the second day. The first day we painted and got all the boards ready.
For breakfast the second day we had eggs rolls, meat, cheese and other stuff like that. It was all cooked by the mayors wife called Orietta. It was delcious.
The next day we put the house together and painted the inside panels. I really liked painting love hearts in Lesly’s room. Once it was all put up the boys were joking that some brown cement like putty was real chocolate and one of them tried to trick me but it didn’t work. I knew what it was but I didn’t know they used it as putty to cover some holes. Emilio helped them to trick me but they never did. I played with Hannah, Andrea and some girls from the other group. The place were we built was dry and there was lots of dust and it looked liek there was an earthquake.
I not only leant how to build a house but also made lots of new friends.
I did so much work helping to build a house. I did lots of painting. I played with Hannah a lot. She is an exchange student from Canada. Shane is my new friend and we played games together and I cuddled him a lot.
When we were waiting we caught some of the kittens and played with them. They were medium kitten size. I held the cats a lot. I made love hearts on the wall in lesly’s new room that we built. It looked very good. I was so tired the first night and I fell asleep at dinner before I even ate. My baba held me and took me back to the tent to sleep. It was a fun weekend.
This weekend we stayed with some friend from Australia called Harry and his son Luka. We stayed at Harry’s house on Friday night in Lima. On Saturday Harry took us to a house building project that he organises at his school. Harry works at a British school in Peru and the house building project was like a school camp but Harry took us along with him.
Harry put me and Toby in a group together and put my mum, baba, Zoi, Emilio and Kalika in another group all together.
I did lots of painting and hammering but I only did some hammering until I hammered my hand so I went back to painting. When there was no more panting to be done, there were some kids from the village that we were building the house for and they wanted me to play with them but they spoke to me in Spanish. I don’t know Spanish so I told them but they didn’t listen to me and it got a bit annoying but I played anyway. I made some wonderful friends Maddie from Australia and Hannah and Jacquie who were on exchange from Canada and another Peruvian girl called Andrea.
The second day we did colourful painting on the walls. By the last half an hour we hadn’t got our roof on yet and it was getting late but eventually we got it done. We were running a bit late cause our house was bigger than the others and there was no power for the whole day In Chincha so we had to wait for the generator that came to our group last. It was really exciting to see the house up cause I looked at it and though ‘we built that house’.
On the way back to Lima it took 2.5 hours and I sat next to Hannah who is 15 Yrs old and on exchange from Canada. It was so nice to talk to her. If I ever go on exchange I would like to go to a French or Spanish speaking country.
On the weekend I met lots of new friends from Markham College in Lima – their names are Jeronimo, Mauricio, Harry and Jose Miguel, and other teachers called Liam and Shane. I played with Shane the most – he is a music teacher and was fun. He said that it was the first time he’s ever banged in a nail. It was, cause he told me and he didn’t have a smile when he told me.
We built a house for Maria who is the mum and her kids Lesly and Jhordy. Their house that they lived in had Lots of other people and was made of some sticks and some bamboo for a roof and walls. I really liked the leaders of our group. One guy was funny when the ice cream van came I yelled out ‘ice cream’ and he said ‘Ice cream? I can’t work without ice cream’ and he ran there. I also went to the ice cream van but it wasn’t a real ice cream van it was just a bike with a box full of ice cream. I got the sandwich ice-cream.
When we built the house I really liked hammering and also painting. I got paint on my face, hair and top and my shorts and shoes. I found some paint on the ground and I picked it up and made myself a little stripe on my nose and cheeks and neck. It was a lot of fun. There was a little girl that lived there and she would come up and was a bit excited and rough sometimes.
After dinner on the first day we went to the centre of the town and went to see Spider-Man but it wasn’t actually him it was just blown up.
He was on top of a ride that was like a roller coaster but it was even more funner and we bounced all the way down and I landed straight and rolled and did a pose. Then we went back to our tent and watched some fireworks.
This weekend we built some houses for the people who lost their houses in an earthquake in 2007. We went with Harry Hildebrand (his mum is a friend of my grandma and they went to school together – Harry’s mum is now our next door neighbour).
These houses were quite small. There was about 6 houses built from scratch but the wood and everything else was already there. About 90 kids went on the trip & the kids were all aged between 12-17 yrs old. I know the sizes of two houses (the one my group built and the one my mum and baba’s group built). 5m x 5m was the size group 2 built & the size of the ours was 7.5m x 3.75m.
In a year or two we are planning on building a dam at our place. Us kids want to build a sort of clubhouse and have a outdoors sports, water sports and fishing club. It may be built around when the dam is built or in could be built in the early months of next year, so this building trip has given us some ideas on how to build the ‘Clubhouse’. Also we have to build a stable in the first 2-4 months because we’re getting 2 retired ‘Riding for disabled’ horses from the ‘Riding for disabled’ school my aunty Carolyn volunteers for. So this building trip has also given us ideas for the stable too! We’ve also thought as time goes by we’ll want to extend the Clubhouse & maybe we’ll Get more horses that might come to us! So we’ll have to work on the extending, won’t we.
I think that this house building project is a great way to meet new people & learn a bit about their culture. I wish there was this type of thing around where I live because I could say that about half of Cheshunt, Whitfield, Rose valley and the King valley likes to build – so when you add all that up (kids & adults) you’ve got about 300-500 people!!!
This is the order of how we built the house.
Got our tools out
Painted the roof (White)
Varnished the wood
Painted & made the windows (Painted white)
Made the frames
Put the plaster on the frames
Painted the plaster
Put the frames up
Put the windows on the frames
Painted the inside of the frames (white)
Painted the inside of the frames different colours (decorated)
A guy came to fit the doors
Put the roof on
I always thought if I was going to build something by myself I would get it wrong but I don’t think that anymore. I feel better about building.
This building weekend was definitely the highlight of our Peruvian trip (or maybe equal first with the Amazon and Macchupichu). It was so well organised by Harry and his team of helpers. He works at a great school and the students were really amazing. I have such upmost respect for our leaders in my group – Jeronimo, Mauricio and Paloma. They were inclusive, friendly, respectful and excellent leaders. Thanks so much to all the group.
Everyone in our group bonded well and I originally thought I’d be on the sidelines with Zoi and Emilio but no – we were all involved. it was awesome also meeting another teacher – Shane who like myself seemed out of our comfort zone to begin with, but by the end we were a great team at installing the windows.
I loved the experience myself but I really enjoyed seeing our kids in this situation. In awe of their own skills, their own abilities and looking up to these amazing Peruvian students. The best moment was at the end when we took a group photo and got such a wonderful smile and hug from Maria and her kids. It was priceless.