Jamestown teen returns from two-week trip to Peru
On April 7, the Press featured a story on Jay Mayers, a Jamestown resident and high school student at Providence Country Day School in East Providence.
While visiting Peru last year, Jay and his classmates were supposed to visit a Mayan ruin, but the trip was canceled. Instead, Jay spent the day playing soccer with the locals. He was so touched by how happy the Peruvians were despite their financial shortcomings that he vowed to return to Lima, Peru, to help the villagers in any way that he could.
“The people,” said Jay at the time, “were the nicest people, yet they were desolate and poor. Some of them were living in cardboard make-shift houses.”
In order to go back to Peru, Jay had to raise $1,000 for travel and housing costs. In order to do so, he began raising money anyway that he could. He was adamant that he didn’t want donations. “People can help me the most by helping me do odd jobs,” Jay said.
Jay raised the money and recently returned from his twoweek trip. The following is a summary of his trip:
“I arrived in Lima, Peru, on June 16, at around 11 p.m., and immediately drove to the hostel where we stayed for the first two days in a part of the city called Mira Flores.
“The first two days consisted of discussing the events of the next two weeks, such as where we would be staying and what we would be doing. Also, our guide, Genevieve, took us on a walking tour of Mira Flores. We didn’t know it at the time, but she was doing this so we could have a better appreciation for how we were living the first two days.
“Then on the third day we drove to a part of Lima that was located on the sand dunes outside of the main part of the actual city, which is called Villa El Salvador. Villa El Salvador is extremely poor, with most people living in tiny, pieced-together houses.
“When we first arrived in Villa El Salvador we went to a place called CIJAC, which is a community project for at-risk kids and teenagers. At CIJAC, kids and teenagers learned traditional Peruvian music, dance and theater, which as they got older they would travel and perform around the city. By doing this the kids have an outlet other than drugs or crime.
“My group was split up and sent to live with some of the kids of CIJAC, myself being with a boy named Henry and his family. Over the next five days we worked with CIJAC to help put on and clean up a cultural festival for the people of Villa El Salvador. We learned traditional Peruvian dances and drumming, taught the kids of CIJAC about America and our culture, and played lots of soccer.
“After five days at CIJAC we traveled to an elementary school that was about 15 minutes away. There we got to spend the morning working with the children, ages 1 through 7. After the kids were picked up by their parents, we went to work in a building next to the school, which was going to be turned into a gym for the school. The work mostly consisted of breaking apart cement so a new floor could be put in.
“At night we would put out cots and sleep on the classroom floors. After three days at the school, we returned to Mira Flores. We all immediately acknowledged how nice everything was, including toilet paper, toilet seats, computers, a TV and a clean bed. On our first day back we visited an orphanage that was in the middle of the city.
“The state of the orphanage can’t even be said in words. It was decrepit, crammed and dirty. They had no running water, sometimes had electricity, and cooked food with wood scraps that were found on the street. Yet the kids and the people that worked there were so happy and we had so much fun with them, despite the language barrier.
“We first played around three hours of soccer with them, then we returned to the orphanage to eat the lunch of spaghetti and cake that we brought. We then decorated the lunchroom with chalk, which we then had to clean up because the director saw it and didn’t like it very much.
“The part that stood out for me that whole day was as we were leaving, some of the kids wrote ‘Te Amo’ on all of our hands, which means ‘I Love You.’
“This truly showed me how just by spending time with them and showing that we cared made a difference to them. We then returned to our hostel and two days later returned to America.”