I signed up to go to Peru. The country my father spent two years of his life in, serving a mission for the LDS Church (mormon.org). I knew some spanish, so I thought it would be a good place for me to go.
While I was there, I fully expected to just be assigned to random projects, just as a volunteer. That happened, I did many odd jobs, from teaching hygiene classes to assisting in special needs classrooms. Then, the opportunity arrived for me to be in charge of my own project. We were told about a sort of home for boys in the city of Piura, and we started teaching english to these boys, ages 8 to 17. I was impressed by the energy of these silly boys, and they became my friends. They reminded me of my little brother, and I really grew to love them as my own brothers. I wanted to do something more lasting for them, because honestly, I don't think they got very much from our english lessons. I decided I wanted to do something I was good at, something that would last, and something they could help with. Their home was very dull, very dusty and brown. A home for little boys should not be so colorless, I thought. I wanted to bring some color to their lives.
So I planned a mural.
It's not an artistic masterpiece by any means, not even close. But its definitely a mark of friendship and symbolic of the love I felt for those boys. I hope they know that and can see that, even now, when they walk by it everyday.
What follows is a visual chronicle of the experience. Some of the work and a lot of the goofing off is pictured.
The before picture:
Painting the Wall blue:
Painting the tree: I drew the outline and the boys kind of filled it in. Quite enthusiastically; they were extremely eager to help out in any possible way.
Painting the far left wall: An outline of one of the boys on the wall, I wanted to symbolize empowerment, possibility, and excitement for the future in a simple design. I'm not sure if I succeeded, but it was definitely fun to paint (and be painted) with all those colors.
Lastly, the type: Typography rules go out the window (sorry!) when all you have is some tape and black paint on a brick wall. But they turned out pretty well, thanks to the awesome work of some of the other volunteers.
Victor also thought he would help with the type... in his own personal way :)
The (almost) finished mural: The only picture I was able to get before I left! It was finished, but just too dark to get a full picture of the completed project on my last evening there.
And the whole group, all the volunteers, the boys and the Padre (Luis) of the facility.
Again, this was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life. I learned that it is not what you have that makes you happy, it is the way you choose to live your life, and the way you treat those around you that really brings happiness. The friendships you make will last into the eternities, so make them with that in mind.
You have a lasting effect on those around you. Human beings are impressionable people, so treat others with kindness. You may just change their lives forever, as these boys did to me.