Location: Cuzco

Author: Savannah Location: Cuzco Today was our first day in the Casa Mantay. The leader of Casa Mantay gave us an introduction to the history and purpose of their small community. In short, it was a house of multiple girls from age 13-17 that were either victim of assault or were in a bad situation and are pregnant or just had a baby that won’t be supported in their home. Casa Mantay provides a bed, food, on-site therapists, and social workers for women and children. The women are responsible every day for cleaning their rooms, doing their assigned chore, and playing and taking care of their kid.

Most of the moms were having lessons today in ways to improve the quality of their leather work because they make coin purses, purses, leather-bound journals, pencil pouches, key chains, bracelets, and more to earn money to support their children. Most of the kids were off at school, but five-eight kids were on-site for us to play with. Our jobs at the house included 1) helping paint, 2) cooking lunch: spaghetti with olives (olive: aceituna), 3) picking up trash, bricks, and large rocks in the yard, 4) playing with the kids

When it started raining, most of us went inside to the courtyard. The high point of my day was playing with one of the children named Maria (10 y.o.). Originally, we were playing volleyball, which turned into a monkey in the middle (mono en la media), which turned into a game she called “mantemela.” I later found out she was telling me to pass it slower…needless to say I felt pretty stupid, but the game was set up like a monkey in the middle but with two monkeys. The bigger monkey holds the smaller monkey by the arms, the big lifts the little up to avoid the ball, at the same time having to avoid the ball him/herself. The point is for the ball to not touch the legs of the two middle people, but apparently, there was no way to win the game.

Right before lunch, three of us went down to the kitchen to gather the pans of food to bring up to Casa Mantay. I was confused when we walked three blocks to get to the kitchen, but one of our leaders, James, was explaining to me that it is a community oven that is open for anyone in the neighborhood to use. I had heard of a community kitchen, but I’ve never heard of a community oven (horno caliente: hot oven).