Immersion experiences from Hendricken House, Lima: Living life from the perspective of the poorest

Juan Manuel Irazabal, a past pupil of Stella Maris College in Montevideo, has offered himself as a volunteer during a break from his university studies.

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Juan Manuel at Dr Tony’s house for children

He has spent two months working with the brothers in Cochabamba and now he has come to Lima for three months. He helps out with the immersion groups and he has given time to helping a fifteen year old named Luis in his studies. Luis has missed a lot of school this year as he is ill and is awaiting an operation. Juan Manuel has just finished a three week experience at a home for 40 sick children from very poor families run by an American doctor named Tony Lazzara. Many of the immersion groups here spend a day with Dr. Tony’s children. Here follow some of Juan Manuel´s reflections on the experience.

“One thing that made an impact on me was the capacity of the children to adapt to their limitations without complaining. It seems that their limitations have become part of them and they also know that there are people there to help them. Many of the children have to travel over a day by bus to arrive and it is a great sacrifice for the parents to leave their children there for months or years, until they are well enough to come home again. Dr. tony is fully committed to the children at the home for over 30 years and it is inspiring to observe him overcoming difficult situations.

I found it difficult at first to deal with the burn victims and I thought that there are things that you think you can´t do and in the moment you overcome you resistance and do it. I had to take the children on the public buses to Lima for their medical appointments and treatments and I was struck by how people stare at the sick children. In the public hospitals a relative has to stay with the patient 24 hours a day and do things that nurses do in other places. I took my turn to stay with Percy in hospital as he is an abandoned child.

Percy is six years old and has been at the home for a few years waiting for an operation on his esophagus. He is a hyperactive kid but in terms of his illness and treatment he has the attitude of an adult. He had to be fed every three hours through a tube in his stomach and I was in fact his nurse. I was impressed by poor parents who have to stay for weeks with their sick child, a great testimony of love.”

We had the visit of a group of students on an immersion experience from Stella Maris College, Montevideo.

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Immersion group from Stella Maris, Montevideo

They constructed a prefab house as other groups do and visited homes for sick and for marginalized children. At their final reflection I asked them: What do I take with me from Peru? The following are some of their reflections:

  • An unforgettable experience to close my final year at school.
  • The experience of the brothers who live their lives in the service of others.
  • The qualities, values, affection and openness of the people.
  • The testimony of every person I met, as for example Emma´s trust in the goodness of God.
  • A new vision of the world.
  • A much stronger faith.
  • Very good memories and grand examples of goodness.
  • To give and not expect anything in return.
  • The immense love of Jesus and how it works in every heart.
  • The stories of many people.
  • One of the best experiences of my life.
  • People and experiences that have touched my heart.