Week Eleven

Cusco, Peru

I learned about Pachamama this week. The Incas worshipped her as a benevolent, giving fertility goddess who embodies the mountains, looks over planting and harvesting, and even causes earthquakes. Pachamama literally means “Mother Earth.”

There isn’t an equivalent word in English to sum up what Pachamama really means. I guess the closest concept would be Mother Nature, but the word really embodies the universal feminine with creative power to sustain life on Earth.

As I spend more time with these young mothers, I can so clearly see this divine feminine force in them. Even with shit circumstances and having to find a new home, their ultimate purpose is to mother. And as I spent time with their kids, I realize it’s bringing out the mother part of me too.

I always thought you have to have your own children to be a mom. But as I can see in this community of girls, it takes a village to raise a child and Mother’s Love flows through everyone here, including me. I now think of these girls as little Pachamamas and it swells my heart with joy and pride for them.

There’s an Indian saying, On Namo Narayani, which means: I surrender to the Divine Mother. The goddess will bring me what’s best for me. I see this concept so alive at Casa Mantay. All these mothers joined together, surrendered to their fate yet embracing it with so much love in their hearts.

In other news, I’ve fallen in love. This is going to sound bad, but I have a favorite baby. I can’t help it, I am so in love with her. Her name is Candy Kaori. She is the gordita of the group and I am obsessed with her. I love to squeeze her because she is just so pudgy and perfect. I can’t get over her cheeks. Candy is almost 1 but she hasn’t crawled yet. From what I’ve understood, her arms and legs are too weak.

She’s so stoic for a baby. She sits and quietly observes everyone. Sometimes she will literally give the stink eye to people. I saw it with my own two eyes. You have to earn her love and respect. She doesn’t give smiles away to just anyone.

She is sassy, but sweet. A girl like that is my soul sister in baby form. I could hold and squeeze her all day. Her pudgy little face makes my heart melt. And we’ve totally bonded. Making her smile is a true achievement, and it gives me so much joy.

I found Candy’s mom because I had to tell her how obsessed I was with her daughter. I think I may have freaked her out a bit. I was secretly hoping she would offer her up for adoption. I could picture bringing Candy home with me and walking off the plane with her in a Baby Bjorn.

Candy’s mom is so sweet and so shy. She isn’t super talkative and she is so gentle with Candy and so attentive. She comes to check-in the most which is so cute. But also slightly annoying, because I really want as much  one-on-one time with Candy as possible.  

I found out Candy’s back story through one of the other volunteers. Candy’s mom was raped. I was so taken aback and I cried that night. I couldn’t believe Candy’s dad was a rapist. I couldn’t believe her sweet, soft gentle mother had to go through that horrifying abuse.

How could this beautiful child, who I love so much, come from that kind of violent beginning? Why was she born into these circumstances? These are the questions I couldn’t stop thinking about. And then one day, the answer hit me.

There is no one else like Candy Kaori.  Candy Kaori is here for a reason. She is so special.  

The lesson I learned from her is:

Something beautiful can come from something awful.
Candy Kaori is a chunk of love who came from something painful and violent. But now she is here and that’s all that matters. I love these Pachamamas and I love their babies.