Thursday, August 20, 2015

leaving peru

{Blake at the birthday celebration KKp threw for him.}

I'll get right to it: it’s with both heavy and excited hearts that we share that we’re leaving Peru in December and moving back to the US. There are many factors that led to this decision. There are easy to explain ones like the fact that Riley will be going into high school and it seemed best for her to do that in the US. And that we don’t have the resources here to help Brady with his learning disorders. And that our car never works. And that Krochet Kids Peru is stable and doesn’t really need us anymore. And that my depression and anxiety has gotten progressively worse while living here.

But really, underlying all of it, and the part that we just haven’t been able to overcome is adjustment to the culture. Four plus years later and we’re still just trying to survive. We can’t get used to the traffic and everyone yelling at each other, a school system that gives 6 year olds exams, truth being fluid and elusive, deadlines that are optional, mechanics you can’t trust, and on and on. I would like to think we can’t adjust because we’re old and too hard wired, but I think the truth is we’re selfish and want things done our way.

We’re bone tired. Weary. We feel like we’ve been fighting a war and it’s only a matter of time before there’s a casualty. Our marriage, my mental health, our kids’ spirits. It’s time for us to bow out and try to find some rest. We realize there’s a good chance that it will be just as hard for us to live in the US now. That we won’t feel like we’ll fit in there anymore. But we have to hope that there will still be space and resources and community for us to heal with. 

We also realize that we are taking a big risk in moving our kids from the barrio of a third world country where almost everyone on our street lacks indoor plumbing and iPhones don’t exist to the most self obsessed and indulgent culture in the world. This might be the stupidest decision we’ve ever made, but it feels like our only option at this point. I know there are days we will physically ache from how much we miss our neighborhood and Krochet Kids. Our decision to move to Peru was also a decision to always have our hearts in two places. There’s no avoiding that. We will always ache for one of the places we call home, either the US or Peru. 

It has been an incredible journey, harder than we could have imagined, but also more rewarding than we could have ever dreamed. We have seen Krochet Kids Peru grow from a concept to a fully functioning social enterprise with 45 women in the program, 4 full time mentors, 30 Peruvian production staff, a couple expat production managers, and a handful of interns. We have our own savings program and loans begin later this year.  We have a day care that costs less than a dollar a day for the women in our program. Seven women have gone back to school. We have classes once a week on life skills/business training and each woman meets with her mentor one on one once a week. 

And most importantly, a family was created. The women of KKp are deeply involved in each other's lives. Spending their free time together, helping each other raise their kids, and going to each other first for support. In February we had a "secret santa" party for Valentine's Day where each lady gave a gift to another lady in the program and said loving and encouraging words about her. By the end of the party, everyone was in tears. The amount of love in that room could not be contained. These women, all once disconnected and lonely, many suffering from spousal abuse or health issues and all living in poverty, barely making it day to day, are a family. They are no longer alone. So, while we are so thankful for the growth of KKp, the jobs created, the money saved, the skills learned, we are most thankful for this family. 

Leaving them will be heartbreaking, but knowing they have each other and seeing how much each lady has changed and grown in our time here makes every hard moment worth it. These women have been given new lives and are seeing dreams they never even dared to dream before come to life. They are so capable and brilliant and they don't need us anymore. It's time for us to move on and start the next chapter of our lives.

For those wondering about that next chapter: we are moving to Southern California because that is home to us. Blake doesn’t have a job yet and, yes, that is crazy scary. I won’t be working at first because 1) I want to be completely available to our kids as they adjust to their new life and new schools and new everything and 2) my depression and anxiety is too high right now for me to be able to hold down a job. So, we don't know much about our future, but we've gotten pretty used to that. :)

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