The alarm went off at 2:30 a.m. and we pulled ourselves out of bed to prepare for our trip home. Our goal was to be on the bus by 3:30 a.m. and we were there at 3:29 (even the guys this time). The ride was a quiet one partly because we were tired, but it was probably also because we were trying to put some perspective on what we were leaving. There was little traffic and apparently the traffic lights and signs are totally optional at this hour because we slowed down ever so slightly at intersections.
Once at the gate we had time to talk about the week’s experience. The group agreed that the last day at Casa de Luz was the hardest to handle. It was very hard to see how the children are being fed. We learn from the literature the best practice for feeding and what we observed went totally against all that has been written. To see the children being fed while lying flat on their backs with no time to swallow or breathe is unpleasant to watch. It is hard for the students to believe that our instruction and guidance is going to make a difference; however, those of us who have been before were able to assure them that the staff has improvements sense our first visit. It is just frustrating to know that we will not be able to monitor and guide them for another year.
We learned that a local physical therapist has offered to donate one day a week of his time to work with the children at Casa de Luz, but that he would need travel money to do that. The group quickly agreed that this would be a wonderful use of the money raised by the silent auction at Mid-South. They also left some money for an emergency fund to be available for the Foundation for Peace workers which would be easily accessible when Lucas, the Director of Casa de Luz, needs the money for food and diapers.
All agreed that the work day was very fulfilling. The students liked having created something tangible that they know will be of help and value to the community. They also highly recommended that we can include a work day again in next year’s trip.
All of the blogs to date have included a bit about the food/meals experienced during the trip and we feel we need to include a statement here as well…there was very little! We got to the airport and a few of us grabbed something from one of the few places open. There was a Domino’s Pizza stand next to the gate and at 6:00 a.m. the lights came on. Everyone started talking about how they would love pizza for breakfast and just as everyone agreed that that would be a great start to the day the lights went off.
We said goodbye to Paul as he was going on to Dallas and then boarded our plane. We arrived in Miami and customs took longer than we had planned. We all walked very quickly to the next gate and and found that they had closed the doors to the flight, but we convinced them that they needed the 15 seats filled and they opened the gate for us. I wish we had a picture of the group jumping up to get the ground crew’s attention to open the gate. It was really a funny sight.
When we arrived in Memphis a student came up and said that this morning she was excited about coming home, but now that she is here she has real and mixed emotions. Many of us were feeling the same way. The re-entry into our culture can be hard.
It was a wonderful trip and our students were amazing! They jumped in without any hesitation to do the work we were there to do. It was so impressive to see how they were able to use their professional skills and problem solve when the conditions didn’t allow for the task to be done the way they had been taught. No one got sick, no one was hurt, and all were there to help. We are so proud! Albert Schweitzer said, “the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” We are all very happy and hope to be even happier in the future.
Jennifer Taylor, David Wark, and Marilyn Wark