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Creating Branches

Expanding mindfulness in faith, compassion and giving back.

“May you find peace in understanding you may never know the extent of your impact, and that your benevolence will ripple through oceans”  – Kristiana Lea

This is a quote I wrote last year for a friend who had volunteered in the teaching program. Now it is on all of the cards I write for my volunteers who leave for we must find the inner satisfaction in knowing we are making an impact even when the progress is small or unseen in our eyes.

Featured post

Signing Autographs: Importance is all relevant.

A little bit thrown, they were all questioning whether the kids were mistaking them for someone else. Perhaps they thought they were here for something other than teaching English. This was not just one occasion, but many that became a common occurrence as our volunteer numbers grew and we expanded to new schools. Kids would swarm with their books arms and pens out ready for the autograph. On occasions I’ve had to physically lend a hand to those that were being pulled to the ground embraced by hugs.

Confused while frantically signing books, arms and crumpled paper she had the heart to ask

“Why do you want our Autographs? You know we aren’t famous or anything important right?

The little 5 year old, God bless his soul, very blatantly turned around with confidence and in his squeaky falsetto Spanish replied

“Oh we know… But your important to ussss!!”–

The lifestyle volunteers chose here in Peru is not that of someone who you would usually associate with signing signatures.

It is not always comfortable, glamorous or a means of materialistic wealth.

However this picture depicts the depth of relevance all of the volunteers have who donate their time and funds to the program.

To all of those who were, are and will be apart of giving what you have to someone who needs it; even if it is a smile, hug or your native language, you deserve a massive thanks.

Changing lives and being the difference without possibly ever even knowing the extent of your importance or impact is worth being asked for your signature every once in a while!

Love you all.

…In all honestly most of the time we receive just as much from these kids as they do from us…

Clean Falafel and lettuce leaf burritos :)

By clean what do I mean?

Brain food. No preservatives, no gluten (found in wheat products that help food stick together because its basically glue) no saturated fat…HEALTHY GOOD FOOD FOR NOT JUST YOUR BODY BUT YOUR BRAIN!

Homemade falafel wraps using lettuce leaves instead of bread, quinoa falafel balls, roasted veggie quinoa salad and natural yogurt. 

Sick for 5 months here in Peru; I am now on a strict clean eating diet to fix my lungs and get my body back on track so I can give my all to the work I am engaged in here in Peru 🙂 This Sunday was clean homemade falafel!

Minka market; Where I bought most of the ingredients for the falafel.

This market is situated in a slightly dangerous area of lima that spans as big as three warehouses full of fresh produce; Vegetables, fruit, meat and everything else you could want.

Altogther these ingredients cost approximately 10Soles which is about $5Aud and even less in $US.

Ingredients:

Falafel balls:

Dry quinoa x 2 cups

Cooked/canned Chickpeas x 2 cups

Parsley x 2 cups

Red onion x 1 (You can use brown)

Garlic x 6-8 cloves

Cumin x 4-6 tsps

Corriander (cilantro) x 3-5 tsps

Vegetable oil x 1 TBsp

you can add baking soda to help it all stick together, but I didnt bother.. they crumble a little but still taste awesome 🙂

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Wrap: 

Full lettuce leaves (Any type and as many as you want)

Eggplant x 1

Tomatoes x 4

Natural Yogurt (you can use greek yogurt or make an actual tahini sauce)

Method

Pre heat oven to 200.

Optional: I chopped up and cooked the red onion before to blending it. You don’t have to cook it.

Cook Quinoa as instructed. I find it is the same as rice to every cup of quinoa place two cups of water in a pot on the stove and cook until the little sprouts have unravelled and it is soft to chew. Approximately 15minutes.

Chop up eggplant and tomato into round slices, place on a baking tray on top of baking paper and place in the oven to roast while it is warming up.

Place all other falafel ingredients minus quinoa in a blender/food processor until mixed and chickpeas are blended.

Once quinoa is cooked, set aside a bowls worth, and combine the rest with falafel batter.

Pull out small portions and roll into balls and place on a baking tray that has been either covered in baking paper or smeared with a small amount of oil.

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Bake in the oven for approximately half an hour.

Utilise lettuce leaves as wraps and place in two falafel balls, some roasted eggplant, tomato and quinoa salad. Drizzle with a bit of natural yogurt and you have an amazingly tasty clean falafel burrito.IMG_4406

Gracias to this beautiful Chica who sat and helped me roll up all of these falafel balls : )

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Finding peace among the chaos. Living in a volunteer house in Lima, Peru.

It is so important to take time to sit still. Pray, meditate, or stare into space. Whatever your down time is, as little as 10 minutes a day can help rejuvenate your mind leading to more brain space for everything else we are involved in.

For those of you that are not aware, Lima is the capital city of Peru. It has a population of just under 10 million and it shows. It is the third largest city in south and north America in front of NYC. People are everywhere, and a lot of them. The roads are busy. The city has a constant soundtrack of layered cars, alarms, dogs, planes, helicopters, pigeons, and parties any night any time, next door. This is all heard when simply sitting on my bed.

Living in the volunteer house does not give ease to this. Where I am currently living houses up to 25 volunteers and a family of 5. This can be both a blessing and a burden. It is exciting always having a large group of inspiring people around, however downtime can be difficult to find.

Whether or not you live in a city of 10 million or a small town. The chaos of life is all relevant.

Time to yourself.

             Time with God.

                          Time to rejuvenate.

It was a strange realisation that simply sitting at a park, or at home, as I used to, is not alone or quiet time. There is always someone else around, and this keeps your guard up as Lima is not the safest city in the world. Being a small blonde haired light eyed australian doesn’t help either. (Everyone here has dark hair and dark eyes.)

The beginning was stressful. Transitioning into this life was hard.

One day I climbed onto the roof where I sat crossed legged, eyes closed and prayed for what ended up being an hour. I have never felt more refreshed in my life. It wasn’t a long chat, a sleep in, indulging or an inspiring ted talk. It was simply sitting still. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in the busyness of life we forget the importance of a little rejuvenation.

The decision to start taking time out for myself worked absolute wonders. Whether it was a 10 minute run or finding a spot on the roof to pray for an hour, finding this time allowed for regeneration of my brain, thoughts and body. I have noticed a significant improvement in my mindset, clarity and ability to complete everything else that is at hand.

Ironically taking 10 minutes out of your day, adds on hours to it. Through regenerating you are able to think clearer and task focus more effectively : )

Even if this does include a background track of a city. Finding peace amongst chaos. Necessity. 


So why do we teach in English in Peru?

In Peru, English is needed when applying to university or most decent employment opportunities. Those who go to school in middle or upper class areas learn English from Kindergarten. Alternately the outer areas only begin learning in secondary school, where the teaching quality is substantially disadvantaged. Living situations in these areas are hard. The lack of exposure to English at a young age then fuels the vicious cycle the world is coming more accustomed to as rich get richer and poor get poorer. 


So although the national language In Peru is Spanish, university placements and many workplaces are forcing english as a necessity. It is now mandatory for high schools (age 13+) to teach english in their curriculum.

In the middle and upper class regions of Lima English teachers are provided through funding either from parents or the school. These begin in Kindergarten. The teachers are often native speakers or speak advanced English.

When visiting Mira Flores (a popular tourist destination in Lima) most Peruvians will speak English if not fluently at least very well. Tours, hotels and most upper class restaurants, cafes and shops all have attendants who speak English. Usually if one doesn’t, someone else in the shop can and has a general idea of English.

So why are we here? 

The schools in Pachacutec don’t have funding to provide English teachers from kindergarten. A lot of schools have an existing teacher run English beginning in high school learning the lesson moments before entering the classroom. This then creates an even bigger disadvantage for those in poorer areas as Pachacutec. If you are following you can understand that this then creates a cycle of rich getting richer and poor getting poorer.

That’s where we come in to the schools that we can, and give English lessons. These English lessons allow the students to be exposed to native speakers with emphasis on practicing correct pronunciation. If all else, exposure to english at a young age connects pathways in these kiddies minds and if and when they want to seriously study english later in life, the basis is present and will be a lot easier for them to grasp later.

Although the impact is not always seen instantly, the influence over their lives is present. Whether as a volunteer we see it now or are even ever acknowledged, we must know that one day a child may lead a life that was substantially aided by the volunteers who gave their time to be here. This alone is thanks in itself.

3 months coordinating a volunteer teaching program in Peru; What have I learnt?

4 months ago I packed up my comfortable, promising, thriving life in Australia, stopped in Europe to then go and live in Peru to work for a local volunteer organisation. 4 months that has included working, volunteering, teaching, dancing, illness, stress, no sleep, a lot of sleep, love for new friendships, people leaving, guns, robberies, counselling, looking out for others, relying on god, finding peace with circumstances, appreciating life, accepting kindness, adapting to new culture, depressing clouds of lima, crying, smiling, slowly learning Spanish, many mishaps lost in translation, eating a lot of raw fish, eating way to much chicken and rice, surfing, running, football, coffee and endless amounts of prayer.

So I thought I would share todays entry in my journal; 

WHAT HAVE I LEARNT WHILST WORKING IN PERU SO FAR…?

No matter what the circumstance, God is always here with us and has the ability to pull us through everything.

I have learnt the true meaning of understanding that you will not be asked to face anything you aren’t capable of tackling. That standing here today shows the strength within you and that we have always been equipped to take on past obstacles, today is no different.

I have learnt the meaning behind living without is living with more. In reference to environment and proximity to people and places.

I have learnt that not everyone has the same level of intention, and this is ok, but it does not mean that you have to bend your morals or ways to adapt to what is being modelled before you.

I have learnt that one of the most important things in life is nurturing relationships by being there for others and just how important it is that we listen as equally as we share; the significance of taking the time out for someone else, not just listening, but mentally stepping aside from whatever it is at hand to spend time truly caring has healing power in itself.

I have learnt that attitude changes perception altering life itself.

I have learnt that People aren’t stupid. That defending an obvious truth is pointless and people will make up their minds regardless. You can still acknowledge and be honest without slander.

I have learnt that there is a difference between altruistic giving and giving to gain; that altruistic giving leads to a greater gain in the long run anyway.

I have also learnt that no matter how hard we work, or bend over backwards it is not always recognised in ways we expect, however it is not unnoticed. That first and foremost satisfaction should come from within and in knowing God sees you.

And finally I have learnt that most of us are small and have a lot to learn; We can always learn more.

Being small has ways of delicately and perfectly leading to a larger impact rather than thinking we need to stomp all over the world with potentially destructive giant feet.

This is just a small amateur entry from today!  I’m going to continue to post journal entries from when I left Aus and about life over here for anyone who is interested : )

LOVE YOU ALL.

-The featured photo is of a volunteer teaching in one of the schools in Pahacutec.

“It makes no sense but this is grace
And I know You’re with me in this place”

Hillsong; United ❤

This is a photo of an area in Lima, Peru called Pachacútec . Volunteers and I travel an hour and a half here where we teach every day. This area spans across what can only be described as mountains of sand on the outskirts of Lima city covered by houses that resemble favelas in Brazil. These houses are constructed from thin wooden boards and house families up to 15 people. The air is sticky and humid and only on a few occasions has the sky been a clear blue, which is a change from the constant grey cover that blankets Lima. At the foot of the mountains is a coast line that when rarely visible is beautiful.

–The community did not have electricity until some years ago and they still do not have running water. The luxury of just being able to wash your hands is so easily overlooked when you have never experienced any different–

The energy of the people in the district of Pachacutec is welcoming, despite the threatening areas we drive through to get here, it is worth the travel. As volunteers we feel comfortable and when walking through the streets and the teachers constantly have students running up to them yelling “Teacher, Teacher,“ with enormous hugs and thanks.

Pachacutec is a beautiful community in a lot of need. Despite the uncomfortable and some what dangerous journey to Pachacutec and back every day, steals the hearts of all volunteers who spend some time there.

100 beads of courage.

She handed me the beads along with other small trinkets to accompany me with my journey. 100 beads of courage are now wrapped around my wrist holding on until time wears them thin.

Inspiration is reciprocated as we hug farewell, a see you later rather.

Courage is exactly what I need, as it is the night before I fly away from my home in Australia towards a move to Peru that has no certainties.

The only certainty is that I am on Gods intended path.

I hold it all together until they have all left. The tears are flowing, as I knew they would, and the concept of courage is on my mind.

    Courage is an emotion that I have not experienced all to much, no,

a concept

    which I have not often acknowledged. I stare at my sisters welled up eyes, my family home, the country I grew up in, and courage is now evident.

When I think of courage, I think wizard of oz. If you are not familiar, it follows the story of a girl named Dorothy. She is lost in the land of Oz trying to find a wizard who can send her home. Along the way Dorothy stumbles across various other characters also seeking something from the wizard. The lion, the king of the jungle, fearless predator, has lost his courage and remains fearful of most everything in life. With the help of Dorothy he is able to seek out the wizard to find his courage.

This story reminds me that even though we have been placed in the perfect circumstance, ie; being born a lion, may not automatically have you standing fearless before the jungle.

Fear is an emotion that we all know to well. Whether it is fear of being late, fear of heights, fear of snakes, fear of failing, fear of loneliness, whatever your fear is, we all have one, or many.

Courage, as I understand it, is the ability to stand up to this fear, even if for a brief moment. As facing fear can become the most positive release of anxiety and fear surrounding a subject.

The type of courage I am referring to is the concept of throwing yourself out into an uncomfortable situation, out of the ordinary way of living life, and out of the routine that we have all become way to fond of. This courage can lead to the path you are intended for, but that is a whole other spiel.

    Take the leap of faith.

Courage is but a moment of deciding and within even seconds, it is over. Courage is taking a leap of faith, courage is taking a leap.

    There are many moments in life when we become torn at a crossroad, whether this is a big decision; it can even be the idea of making decision. Courage will come into the picture when you decide to take the step towards something that is outside o your normal, that is hard, that Is different, that may not work out.

Continue reading “100 beads of courage.”

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