Niños Del Sol: Part Two, Shopping with the Kids

Niños Del Sol: Part Two, Shopping with the Kids

continued from Part One

As most of you know, I have been able to collect donations from the folks back home to take the kids from the Niños Del Sol children’s home (formerly Casa De Milagros) shopping for new coats and shoes. Many of you gave, and a few people came back every payday to give a little more.

What you can’t imagine is how touched and grateful the kids and their caregivers are for this random act of generosity they’ve received from total strangers. I will try to show and tell you in this post, because Craig and I were showered with love and appreciation that really belong to all of you, and I need to try to pass those feelings along. The kids are simply dumbfounded to know that somewhere, some strangers cared about them.

The entire weekend was like one big party.

Avishai cooked us breakfast, including pancakes, coffee, peanut butter, maple syrup, local cheese, and tiny avocados. We’ve never been so spoiled (and some of these things are hard to find in Peru). This is the dining room of Viviana and Avishai’s home, where we were invited to spend the weekend. The flowers are from Viviana’s mother’s garden in a nearyby village.
My camera helped me make friends with the kids. They’d pose for me and then I’d show them the photo onscreen. Doesn’t Doris have a stunning smile?
Rusbel and Sonqo  played together constantly. I would have expected more fighting among boys this age (8-10), and I’m sure it happens, but I  didn’t see any.
Somehow Viviana got all the kids ready to go. All were freshly showered and most had made special efforts with their hairdos. Today is a Big Deal.

The excitement of the shopping trip was palpable. These kids don’t get to shop for their own clothing very much, they inherit a lot of hand-me-downs. So did I, so I know how they felt.

We walked to the market. One of the girls, Luisa, caught up with me and held my hand for most of the walk. Viviana, who gets around pretty well in spite of having had polio as a child, took up the rear and kept an eye on things.

Shops in Peru are small, but the kids didn’t mind piling in close and helping one another. Not one kid chose an item without getting opinions from the others. Making choices — and defining themselves, which is part of what we do when we choose things — is a new skill for them. Look at the smiles.
Always the kids were together, except for a few of the older teens who would break away in pairs. And always Viviana was right in the middle, helping.
This is Marco, a loveable artist & comedian with a beaming smile. He is about 14. All the kids are on the small side for their ages, but Avishai is working on improving their diets.
The girls are all like sisters, but without the constant bickering. The teen girls really look out for each other and are very affectionate.
This is Soledad. She is six, the youngest of the ‘family,’ and has lived at the Center since she was a baby. She was more interested in interacting with Craig and I than in picking out clothes. She really enjoyed our attention, and we enjoyed hers just as much.
The boys went for superheros and colorful designs. They also stayed close to each other.
At one point. Soledad took Craig by the hand and started showing him jackets she thought HE might like. Then she took him outside for a break from the crowded store.
One by one,  jackets were selected and piled into Craig’s arms.
When all the jackets were chose, Viviana negotiated prices with the shopkeeper. I’m positive we made her day as well. Money doesn’t circulate very freely in Peru, and most people live on very limited means.
The kids stepped up to carry the bags. I don’t think anyone even asked them to do it. They are used to helping, they all take turns helping in the kitchen, doing dishes, cleaning the floors, etc.
We were all happy to get out of the crowded store and into the fresh air! Time to move on to the shoe stalls in the market.
Entering Calca’s open-air market.
There were  two aisles of shoe sellers at the market, but Viviana kept tabs on everyone (and the kids kept track of each other’s whereabouts as well!)
Sonqo and Rusbel look like they’re planning to get into some trouble in the market, but that never happened.
The older boys had more trouble finding cool shoes than anyone. Notice that Belisario, on the left, has put on his new jacket. It was hot that day, but several of the kids were wearing them in the market.
This girl left the market without choosing any shoes. She said they were all too flashy. She seemed to enjoy the day anyway. Going out into the community is new to these kids, they’ve been living in a very isolated place until recently and just moved into temporary digs right on the main plaza. Viviana encourages the older kids to leave the building and explore the town.
Here’s Rusbel, the youngest boy, sneaking up on Craig to give him a hug. The kids hugged us and thanked us every time they selected something. I felt a little guilty accepting all those hugs — they belonged to those of you who made donations, not to us.
We went back to the center for lunch. Soledad enjoyed teaching Craig some new Spanish words out of a book, and she showed off her English, too (she knows her colors).
When Sol snuggled in between us, we noticed her hair was soaking wet again.
Craig also noticed some of the kids washing their feet in the yard, in washbuckets. (the kids do their own laundry and hang it in the yard to dry)
Later, Viviana told me the kids wouldn’t put on their new shoes until they had scrubbed up. Soledad insisted on taking another full shower before she would put her shoes on. She wouldn’t put on her new jacket at all, she said one new thing a day was plenty and she would save that for another day.
After the shopping, Viviana walked the kids back to the center, but Craig wanted to stay in the market. He picked up some new soccer balls, hula hoops, and several DVDs for the kids. Watching the kids, on the left, trying to pick out a movie to watch later, I was struck by the fact that none of them might even be able to read if it weren’t for this center.


I was impressed, again, by how well the kids worked together to choose a movie to watch first. They chose Alice in Wonderland. One of the boys carried in the big TV and DVD player, because the dining room is the only space they have to gather in right now. While they were all watching the movie, we slipped out.

We took Viviana and Avishai out to dinner in the nearby village of Pisac to thank them for their hospitality — but once again, we got more than we gave. Getting to know the two of them has been the most amazing experience.

I’ll post more about them in Part 3, when I talk about Sunday’s activities. Meanwhile, I just want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for what you’ve done for these children.


Published by Lauren

I'm a nomadic freelance writer, out enjoying the world!


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  • Catherine

    November 23, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Loved the photos and commentary!! Soledad seems like a real sweety. 🙂

  • Kristy

    November 25, 2013 at 12:58 am

    What an incredible adventure you and the children had. And Craig of course. You two are a great team! Really enjoyed the photos and your comments. Thanks for giving them the love we have sent with our donations.

  • Lauren

    November 25, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    She stole our hearts. All the kids did, really.

  • Lauren

    November 25, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Thank YOU for making it possible for us to do this!

  • Avishai Pearlson

    December 1, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    I am crying with emotion and joy as I see the pix and read your words, describing so well the Ninos and their world, now our world.
    Lauren and Craig, your presence here with our Ninos is heart warming, and an affirmation to all we believe in and do. All your friends who sent their donations and blessings truly make a difference in the lives of these kids.
    Thanks you, Muchas gracias, Toda raba, to you and all who join us in caring for these kids.
    All are invited to come and visit us in the Sacred Valley of the Inkas and take part in caring for our Ninos, in any way you want and can. We promise you an unforgettable, transforming experience.
    With gratitude and blessings,

  • Lauren

    December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Avishai, thank you! I strongly encourage anyone headed to Peru to visit you and the kids. It is a magical, heartwarming, soul-expanding experience, and absolutely the highlight of our travels so far.

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