Yesterday Sammie Wakefield and I moved from hotel in central Lima to Centro Peyton in San Juan de Lurigancho. The hotel was good for walking to the plaza and shopping for hardware supplies, but Peyton is a far more pleasant place to be. We are the first people to stay in new space that has been built on to accommodate groups like ours, as well as student groups. They are still putting on finishing touches and had to set up beds for us yesterday. This is a special place to live because it is in San Juan de Lurigancho, where we will be working through May 20. Centro Peyton is a sort of community/conference center, offering classes and various opportunities to local people. And it is beautiful. In the midst of a huge and noisy city, being in Peyton is an oasis of quiet.
I awakened this morning to a lovely blue sky and dove calls – as it happens I have a bird’s eye view of a nest with babies just across the way from my window/balcony. Also from this window I have a panoramic view of the mountains with homes clinging to them; marching higher and higher in some cases all the way to the top. Later arrivals to Lima live higher up. I have visited some of these homes, where children and young people with cerebral palsy and similar conditions live with their families. They are accessed by paths or long staircases. A friend in Lima who is an architect estimates that 80% of the homes would collapse in the event of a serious earthquake.
Furniture is carried up on peoples’ backs – as are children and adults with disabilities who cannot walk. Wheelchairs are mostly used in the home – a huge benefit compared to lying in bed all day! But if the child must go down the mountain – what then? Sometimes the wheelchair lives at home, and sometimes it lives at school. If there were ever a need for two wheelchairs – it is here. Meanwhile I am safe and comfortable in Centro Peyton. It is structurally sound, beautiful, has hot water and is even wheelchair accessible on the lower two levels. How privileged am I. I will be reminded of this countless times over the next weeks.