As I sit here and write this I have fourteen days left here in Huanuco. Fourteen. It doesn’t even feel real when I type it. I know my blog has been lacking lately, and I apologize for that. It’s hard for me to reflect and put my feelings into a blog post sometimes because it’s hard for me to even explain or recognize the feelings that I’ve had while being here. So much has happened, I’ve had so many different emotions go through me, yet how do I explain that. The other volunteer that had been here for the past few months left just last Thursday and that’s when it really hit me. Seeing her say goodbye to all the girls at the shelter, all the women and men who work here, our host family; it hit me that that will be me in two weeks. Her last day of work was really emotional. It’s a different kind of goodbye when you don’t know if or when you’ll ever see that person again. And nowadays, we can say goodbye to someone and tell them things like “We’ll Facetime!” “Don’t worry! We’ll message each other every week updating one another on our lives!” “This isn’t a goodbye, it’s a see you later” “I can’t wait to see what you’re up to on your Instagram.” Those goodbye phrases aren’t used when it comes to saying goodbye here. The girls at the shelter don’t have access to internet, social media, international calls, or even cards. When you say goodbye to them, you’re saying goodbye. For good. If you do happen to come back and visit, most of the girls who are currently in the shelter, will be gone, off on the next part of their lives. You’ll most likely never hear from them again. That’s why saying goodbye here is so hard.
About a month ago, three fifteen year old girls who were living at the shelter ran away. They went to a school in a town nearby and didn’t show up to their next class. They were gone. No goodbye, no bags packed, no note. Just gone. This really hit me and Savanna hard. We thought they must be found in a week, two weeks tops. These were fifteen year old girls who had been in our care so we had to find them. The police searched for a bit (I’m not positive just how hard they searched), but they never were found. These girls who we had seen everyday, laughed with, hugged, were just gone. They decided they did not want to be living in the shelter and they made the decision to go. It was hard for Savanna and I to understand why the women we worked with were so nonchalant about it all. We discussed how in The States, if three fifteen year old girls ran away from a shelter where we had been taking care of them, the search would be extensive. I’m sure we would have found them. But here, it’s almost as if they had just accepted their decision to go and respected that decision. They might not have agreed with it, and they were definitely hurt and upset by it, but if that’s what the girls had wanted to do, there really was nothing the workers could have done to stop that. It took me awhile to understand and accept that. Even weeks after, I would continue to ask if there was any news about them and receive the shaking head “No.” After awhile, I realized that even though these girls chose to run away, eventually all the girls here would leave, either going to live with relatives or another shelter, and I wouldn’t have any control over what they decided to do in their lives. Nobody would. That’s the hard thing to accept about life. Sometimes we’ll never know how someone who we once cared about will end up living their lives. All we can do is keep them in our prayers and thoughts and hope for the best. But it’s also the beauty of life. People all around the world, are constantly living and dying, laughing and crying, loving and losing. That’s life. It’s better to accept that then try and fight against it. Leaving here will be one of the hardest things I’ve done. But it’s all a part of this crazy and beautiful life I’m living.