Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Day at Casa de Milagros

July 31 - A Day at Casa de Milagros
Blog written by Emma Lewis, Arlington, MA

Today, after a hearty breakfast, we left our hostel and made our way to Casa de Milagros, an orphanage in Lamay. We got off the bus and saw the stunning hacienda in which the orphanage is located. Mountains and sunshine surrounded us. Alan, who started Casa de Milagros with his wife Marie twelve years earlier, greeted us. He explained that after losing their three-month-old son, Chandler, both he and Marie wanted to give their love to children who had lost their parents. Thirty-five children are currently living at Casa de Milagos, four of whom are natural children of Alan and Marie, and thirty-one of whom were taken into the House of Miracles after being orphaned. They are all part of a happy, loving family. After touring the hacienda and learning about the organically grown food, rabbits, ducks, horses, and many activities that are available to the children, we got to work.

The archeologists were in for a real treat! One of the jobs that needed to get done was exposing an ancient wall that had been encased in dirt for years. This would allow more room to harvest corn and would also make it possible to find ancient Inca stones, which had been used in the wall. We had a great time! The group found many ceramic pieces, bones, a tooth, a chess piece, a pocket watch, and stones that dated back to the Inca Empire!

The photographers were given the honor of taking photographs of the children that would be included in the Casa de Milagros brochure. Each photographer was assigned two or three children to portrait. We also got a chance to help out in the kitchen. We really enjoyed hand peeling the potatoes that we were to have for lunch!

After meeting all of the kids and having a little snack, some of us head out back to play volleyball or swing on the swings with the kids. A couple of us decided it would be fun to lead a dance lesson for the kids. Our recently acquired salsa skills sure came in handy! All of us were laughing and having a great time.

For lunch, we had a delicious home grown meal of rice with vegetables, potatoes, eggs, and chicken. We were all very full, but not too full to stop us from playing some more volleyball! All of the kids were much better than us, but we all had a lot of fun. Because the kids spoke no English, we all had the opportunity to work on our Spanish.

We were so sad when it came time to say goodbye to our new friends. We gave our last high fives and got back on the bus with heavy hearts. Everyone at Casa de Milagros radiated love and kindness, both towards each other and towards the group. We all agreed that the experience is something that we’ll keep with us for a long time.

When we got back to the hostel, we were given a bit of free time to explore Cusco. Later that afternoon, we broke off onto On Assignment teams. The Photography students started to pick out their favorite photos from the trip and the archeology students worked more on the guidebook. That night, we watched a great National Geographic movie featuring Peter Frost. It was a very full day, but one of the best we’ve had so far.

Alan, one of the owners of the orphanage, and his daughter Lily
taking us on a walk around the house

Photo by Hannah Dunsirn, Menasha, WI

Using the assembly line technique to move stones from a field
in front of the orphanage. Archaeology students had fun finding
Spanish colonial era artifacts in the dirt piles they were helping to move!

Photo by Hannah Dunsirn

Gabby, Katie and Emma helping out in the kitchen
Photo by Hannah Dunsirn

Katie helping to teach some of the kids a dance lesson
Photo by Hannah Dunsirn

lunch time!
Photo by Hannah Dunsirn

Jessie takes one of the orphanage resident's photos
for use in a new brochure. Photo students were happy to put
their skills use for such a good cause.

Photo by expedition leader Lindsay Mackenzie