“To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else.”
~Bernadette Devlin

Wow….has it really been 3 months??

Surreal to think that just a few months ago I began this amazing adventure (well, the latest chapter anyway) and oh so much has happened since…

You haven’t heard too much from me during this time – just too much happening very quickly to even process it for myself, let alone be able to communicate it in any kind of sensical way…to say I was consumed would be an understatement.

I am blessed to report that I am doing very well, as are the kids, and the future of Casa de Milagros is looking very bright…;-)

When I left, so much was up in the air and unknown…and on the ground there was SO much work to do. So I did what I went there to do – roll up my sleeves and get to WORK.

I am so thankful to say that the work paid off. In just the first month I was able to reduce the operating budget by 50%, greatly reducing our overhead and have continued to operate on a 50% budget for the last two months. I have re-staffed, and hired on an amazing administrator who is helping me manage the day to day and has been an immense support to me and everyone at Casa.

There has also been a lot of legal and operational work with regards to the organization in Peru, and lots of clean up with things like our tax returns, the Peruvian board, all of the million financial and legal considerations involved with running a non-profit in Peru. Not to mention the social work side of things that I had zero clue about but have somehow managed to pick up quickly! I have been learning the ins and outs of running a home for children, and all of the many facets that entails…

I have worked in partnership with John Munn, the US Board president, on the fundraising and PR side of things. When I arrived we had less than 2 months of budget left, but in the past few months have thankfully been able to secure funding through to the end of year. We are very hopeful that soon we will have a solid donor base that covers our yearly budget for 2013 and beyond. This means that Casa is staying open for business!! ;-)

I have spent a lot of energy on networking and have formed some amazing relationships. I am starting to build invaluable partnerships within Cusco and in the non-profit world in Peru.  There are incredible people doing wonderful work there…and I feel so fortunate to be meeting so many of them!

Perhaps the most intense and important work of all has been the work with the kids. A lot of my energy has been spent on helping them heal and feel a sense of safety and stability for the first time in several years. Everyone at Casa has felt the uncertainty and instability of the past few years, and each child has internalized it and has acted out in their own way. Little by little we are working with each of them, and the shift has been tremendous; there is a sense of hope and positivity that has not been felt in a long time.

Towards the end of July, John Munn came out to visit with his wife and their youngest daughter. Neither of us had any idea what to expect as it was the first time we were meeting in person, and we had both had such a crazy and mixed experience during our involvement with Casa thus far. But as soon as we met we pretty much fell in love :-) He’s a wonderful man, very humble, down-to-earth, and has a huge heart. We were on the same page about pretty much everything. He was also very impressed with the work I had done in such a short amount of time, and couldn’t stop saying how different things were from the last time he had visited. He said “you’ve done more by yourself in just 2 months than all of the other people combined did in the entire 18 months I’ve been on board…”  You have no idea how good that felt to hear ;-) More importantly, it was validation that I was where I needed to be…and that I actually COULD do this!

Throughout his stay, John kept planting seeds for us to have “the talk” which was essentially – “so now what?” Obviously neither of us had placed expectations on my time in Peru, other than to hope that there was a way to keep things going. When I left, I knew there was the possibility of it being a longer than 3 month project – but as I mentioned, there was no way I was going to risk everything (again) without first going and seeing for myself what the situation was. Now it was 2 months in, and both of us were feeling super inspired and fully motivated to continue the major progress that had been made. There was no way I could leave Casa now. John said there was no one else in the world he could imagine doing the job, and he asked me if I would be willing to stay on as the permanent director. He wanted to make sure I felt good about the situation and asked me what I would need to make it happen. Obviously I needed a couple of days to think about things, but in my heart I already knew the answer.

YES! Of course I accepted, and once we ironed out the details, I felt more than supported and taken care of – which felt amazing.  To be able to do the work I love and that inspires me on such a deep level, PLUS feel compensated and supported…it’s literally a dream come true. I feel beyond blessed, and incredibly happy.  Both John and I are committed to having this be just the beginning – to get Casa De Milagros on sustainable ground, grow the project, and then open other homes to be able to help many more children…it’s what I’ve wanted to do my whole life, and it feels absolutely surreal that it’s actually happening.

SO…I am officially the Executive Director of Casa De Milagros Peru!  I have committed to living in Peru for at least the next two years but I have 10 weeks of vacation and a certain amount of flights included per year, so I will be coming to the states every 4-5 months or so to visit.  And you guys can come visit any time too! ;-)

This obviously means that my life in the states is on hold for now…I am back for a few weeks visiting and taking care of all of the details involved in packing up my life and moving to Peru. I am giving up my apartment (waahh!!) and selling virtually everything I own – so if you want any of my stuff let me know ;-)  Most importantly, I wanted a chance to reconnect with those I love and hope to be able to see as many of you as possible before I head back. I have been in the states for a little over a week just getting grounded and spending quality time with my family down in Santa Ynez. I just arrived to the bay area late last night and will be here for about a week. If you are free and would like to meet up, please contact me!

So much more to share, but way too much for one post..I have finally updated my website and blog here with some photos and stories about some of my adventures over the past few months. I’ve met so many beautiful people and had the most incredible experiences of my life…and there are many more to come! I promise to be much better about the updates from here on out ;-) To the right in the sidebar you will see a sign up box so you can receive updates from my blog to your email if you’re interested – if not I’ll be posting them on Facebook too.

Well my friends, it is a bittersweet (mostly sweet) day…I will miss all of my peeps, and my beautiful life here in California. But I know this is only bye for now…and besides, I’m only a Skype call away…;-)

Love you all so much and hope to connect with you while I’m here in the states…if not, ’til February!

Big hugs,