I spent a good part of my last day with Maria and Ruth my sweet little amigas. I remember when I first met these two little girls begging on the boulevard, I knew there was something special about them. I could tell that Ruth was a very special little girl but she had a shield up. It was hard to break through because of the language barrier and also because I doubt she trusted men, especially gringos.
I imagine most of the men in her life have brought nothing but misery to her and her family. I have been to their house so often that the it no longer shocks me but every time I bring a friend they are appalled at the conditions.Their ten foot square room is always hot, smelly and cramped. Their living conditions are the worst I have ever experienced.
I am always impressed how Ruth is always more concerned about her brothers and sisters then herself. Today she was concerned that I would leave before getting Maria a new mochila (backpack) for school. It took months of support, love and kindness to earn her trust and break through her tough little shell. Today as I got my last hug from my girls and told them I loved them, the only thing they could ask is “When will you be back?”
I’d like to think I have made an impact on their lives, but I know they have made a monumental impact on mine. I have people tell me all the time they wish they could do something like my trips to Iquitos, my only suggestion is to just “do it”. There is no feeling quite like it.