Why am I here? I've been challenged recently by a book I've been reading to ask the question, "Why?" The author writes that we usually ask the "How?" questions--how do I make more money? How do I find a mate? How can I be more attractive? How do I get to place X, Y, Z? And so on it goes. What we don't do, however, is ask the "Why?" questions--Why do I want to feel loved? Why is this attractive to me? Why are we--why am I--here?
I've been living for just over a month now in Lima, Peru, interning at Krochet Kids and living with the country director, his family, and the production manager, the only American staff from the organization on the ground here in Peru. In more ways than one, it's exactly what I hoped to do this summer: Live abroad, help work to empower women to rise above poverty, ride around the city and down the coast in a VW van, take photos and even get to paint, be immersed in Peruvian culture, meet and build solid relationships with the KK ladies, staff, and interns, learn more about poverty, social enterprise and more their endless complexities, and be put way outside of my comfort zone. It's all I've ever wanted to do; it's been an adventure, it's been an adjustment, and it's also been harder than I thought it would be.
In the last month, I've gotten to do all these things and more--a multitude of gifts I never did anything to deserve. I came in to this experience with a lot of questions--How can one make a difference in the generational poverty that affects hundreds of thousands, in this city alone? How do I say "No, I'm not Chinese," in Spanish? How do you pick the ladies for the program? How did you get the company to this point? How are the ladies mentored and taught?
But in the first two weeks, the more disturbing, harder to answer, and persistent "Why?" questions began to to grow, from inconspicuous tugs they grew the lines and curves of letters, which arranged themselves into words, who aligned themselves into sentences, which then whispered their way into my conscious thought. The more answers to the "How's" I got, the more unanswered "Why's" I realized existed. Why is poverty so complex? Why is Why aren't there more people who care? Why do some people in poverty not want the opportunity to overcome it? And this one, the loudest of all, "Why am I here?" I know how I got here, but why? What is my purpose? Why am I here? Not, what am I supposed to do? But, why am I supposed to do it?
The family I'm living with has four kids--two girls, two boys, all under the age of 11. As with most kids, they love to ask questions. From "why did you pierce your nose?" to "Why do you like cheese so much?", to "Why did Jesus give me blonde hair?" I've been stumped more than once. Anything and everything can be followed up with the question, "But why?"
Everyone identifies with this, because everyone has been this child, asking these questions. But somewhere along the way, we stop asking "why". Maybe it's because the adults in our lives got annoyed and stopped answering, maybe it's because it was too hard to find the answers, or maybe its because we learned to be content with not knowing, letting our child like curiosities wither gently away until forgotten.
As for the "Whys" in my life right now, they remain unanswered, but not forgotten. I don't know why I'm here, but that's OK. The questions continue to persist, but seem less accusatory. Rather than feeling guilty or frustrated for not knowing these answers, I consider them motivation, energy to fuel my stamina to complete the race and continue seeking the "Because's." This curiosity prompts me forward, away from stagnancy and complacency. It's uncomfortable, it's frustrating, and I wish I had it all figured out, but I continue to learn that it's what makes us better.
Home visits with Julia and Eva, Krochet Kids beneficiaries.