A school like no other.
Yesterday we arranged for a driver and a van because our trip to Pomploma Alta, was not near. We drove about 40 minutes to a community that was the most impoverished I have ever seen. They do not even have running water. Every day a water truck drives through and fills large blue containers with water. In the states we see these being used as trash bins at festivals.
We drove up into the hills and as we drove on the dusty unpaved roads kids flocked our van. Once the van arrived we opened the door to have kids grab our hands and proudly walked us to their school. They had been waiting for the clowns to arrive. I walked up about 15 stairs to the school to find a chalk board and 15 chairs. Yes that was all. I began to write on the board thinking about how I used to have one in my own classroom.
As I wrote, I realized that I am so lucky to have what I have at my school. I looked around and wondered how the children learn to write or read because they don’t have books, pencils, pens, or anything but a chalk board and chairs. At the same time it also challenged me to want to figure out how to be creative with only those items.
I went back downstairs to get ready for the show. We performed for the children and following it, we handed out noses. We had about 60 kids who wanted noses and we went through 200. We were mobbed by kids needing and wanting a red nose. The values of the children came out as many of them stuffed pockets full of the free hand out. It made me wish we had more to give.
Following the show, I went and played soccer on the steep dirt road with some of the kids. It was not only fun to be playing with them but I was also wearing my clown shoes which made the experience ten times funnier.
We kicked the ball back and fourth and finally one of the boys kicked it to me and I missed it. It went down the hill and bounced a few times back and forth and finally ended up in someone’s home. The hill is super steep and I was told to stay away from the edge. However we had to get the ball back. Lawrence (the photographer) and I looked over the hill trying to figure out how you would even attempt it. Suddenly a group of boys started to walk down it through the rocks, sand, and trash. I felt terrible and I wasn’t sure if they were even allowed to go down there.
A teacher walked by and I asked her how we get the ball back. She assured me that the boys knew how to do it and they could go down and try to find it.
I kept thinking how easy it is at home to get your ball when it bounces into someone else’s yard and how I used to have to ask my mom if I could even cross the street alone. But this went into someone’s home and couldn’t be found. I went back up to take some pictures with kids to find the little boy who lost the soccer ball earlier, kicking it around again.
Later we left and went for lunch. Before we could go to lunch we had to drop off all of our bags and backpacks because if they were locked in the van while we ate lunch, chances are things would be stolen. Even if the driver is with the van the entire time. So we dropped them off and locked them up at an office building and then went for lunch. Following lunch we went to another school and performed. The kids loved it and we spent about an hour after making balloon swords. We had our performance in a fenced in, area in the center of the community. Trash blew in and out as we entertained but no one was bothered by it.
Around 6pm we left. An exhausted clown van drove home and reflected on all the things we saw. I never thought that I would find myself loving yet another way to impact kids in such positive ways through clowning. I am so glad I had the opportunity today to bring joy to children’s lives from a totally different perspective. Today was another amazing day in Peru.