HELP English Changed Me

This is a blog entry from Amanda Geissler who volunteered with Otra Cosa Network for two months. By the end of her stay, she found the love, friendship, and happiness of a family with her adult and kid students at the Quibisich Artisan Center in Huanchaco as well as with the volunteers. Being involved in several projects like LitClub and HELP English, she began the program with the artisans teaching the local business owners key phrases to aid them in selling their handmade goods. Amanda decided to teach English to their kids as well, allowing the artisans a couple of hours a week for them to focus on their business. Amanda is an inspiring person all around, and personally someone who I am truly thankful to have met. The light on her face every time she came to the volunteer house after a class with a fun or sweet anecdote easily made me tear-up. She has her own blog and has shared this entry with me to post here. It is about her experience during her holiday, which shows that the moments, big or small, that we experience in a foreign place carry on with us everywhere we go. Happy reading! – Janice Ayarzagoitia

February 19, 2014


Amanda Geissler

While volunteering in Peru, I have had a couple of breakdowns from seeing the kids’ living conditions. Today, it was in Chicalyo, a city three hours north of Huanchaco.

I have just the day in Chiclayo before I take my night bus to Chachapoyas. I searched feverishly through the crazy, mysterious, kinda scary market (Sorry mom) for what my guide book calls seguros. These are small vials of various charms and things that guard you from evil and bring you luck. They call them amuletos here. Anyways, like most of the best things in life, they aren’t on the outside. They are deep, deep inside. Along with the amuleto I wanted. I was in the maze of incense, unfeathered hanging chickens and mountains of mangos, when I finally found the medicine man that had them. There was something amazing about the small stand he had. As I negotiated for my lucky charms I felt a real sense of accomplishment. I’m actually getting the hang of this backpacking thing. So I celebrated with some ice cream.

I sat on a beach in the plaza devouring my sweet ice cream cone and admiring my purchase that took 2 hours to find and was relaxing for a second. There are vendors walking around trying to sell things constantly and it’s easy to ignore them and say no thanks. The kids are another story. Each of them breaks your heart more and more and I usually say the same thing to them and then hold back my sadness. However, for some reason I decided to ask a kid that was trying to sell me gum how he was. This was the conversation (translated to English of course):

Me: How are you?

Him: Good

Me: How old are you?

Him: 9

(Moment of silence because I started to tear up under my sunglasses)

Me: Do you like working?

Him: Yes

Me: Why?

Him: Because then we can have food.


Me: I will have one pack of gum please

Him: Thank you, Miss.

I may be enabling him more because I gave him that 1 sole for gum but all I could think about were the kids I know (for some reason I kept thinking about one of my favorite kiddos back home about his age, Max Kuenzi) and how they should have a crazy childhood, not have to work for the food on the table.

For the second time here, and out if nowhere, I’m reminded again about how lucky we are. Maybe it was the amuletos that I had in my hand.


Written by Amanda Geissler

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