Location: Sacred Valley, Peru

Today we volunteered with My Small Help and worked with one of their beneficiaries named Nati. Nati is an older woman who lives in Ollantaytambo and is paralyzed from her waist down. We began the day having breakfast together in our hotel, and then we walked through the town to the My Small Help residence to pick up some tools and meet Jessica and the other volunteers. Their yard was so beautiful, when we walked in through the gate we saw the yard filled with beautiful flowers and plants and of course, Inti, their pet duck. We tried to get her to follow us to Nati’s but she didn’t want to. We walked to Nati’s house and immediately started our project.

When we got to her house, her yard looked like a typical yard filled with green grass and weeds. Our goal was to transform her yard into a garden for her to eat from in just one day. The first step was for some of us to use pickaxes to loosen the ground, while the rest of us pulled all the grass and weeds out. Then we had to mix dirt and manure for topsoil and lay it down. We then put wooden pools in the four corners and wrap chicken wire around to make sure animals won’t get in. Then we made the rows and began planting. After we had finished weeding we took a lunch break and took the bus to a nearby restaurant where I bought a bunch of friendship bracelets for my friends at home, and after we were done eating we played Sapo. In Spanish, Sapo means frog. The game was to toss coins onto a platform and try to get it into the frog’s mouth. When we got back to Nati’s house, Amy and I wanted to talk to her so we asked Natalie to help us. She told us that Nati spoke Cuechua, so she spoke as much Spanish as we did so we went by ourselves. As soon as we sat down and greeted her she immediately started to warm up to us. She was telling us many stories, and we were listening closely to try and understand what she was telling us. We both only understood a couple words, but judging by what we could understand, and her body language and tone of her voice, we were able to get some of it. She began talking to us about something, and as she was talking she kept touching our legs and then her own, and she began to cry. It was so sad and we could tell what she was talking about. We both gave her a hug and she kissed us both on the cheek.

It was such a sad and sweet moment and it made me really think about how lucky I am to have my legs. I love talking to the people I meet here and trying to get to know them because despite the language barrier, it’s easy to make a connection. When we finished transplanting her garden, it looked amazing and we all felt so proud of what we had done to help her. When we had finished, we had tea and cake with her before we left. When we got back to our hotel, we split up and went out to dinner. Today was Peru’s independence day so the streets were filled with people celebrating. Today was one of my favorite days of service because of the moment Amy and I shared with Nati and the fact that we were able to finish the whole project in one day start to finish.