La Calle San José (St. Joseph Street) in El Carmen, Perú
Although, I have not been to Perú in the last couple of years due to my work situation, I stay in touch with my goddaughter Daniela, her family, and the family next door who gives me a place to stay during my visits. About a month ago, I contacted Daniela in El Carmen, Perú by phone and asked how many times she and her family and friends would like to go to the beach in that given month so I’ll know how much money to wire the van driver. She excitedly stated three times.
I have so much love for Daniela that I try to do things, even while here in the USA, that I think will make her happy. However, I became very suspicious when I called Daniela again and asked her if she wanted to continue going to the beach. She responded yes, but asked that I wire the money to her mother and not the van driver. She explained that the van driver will not be able to do it, and there was no I that I could talk to him. Daniela added that her mother will find another driver. Sending money directly to Daniela's mother for Daniela's entertainment was what I was trying to avoid. I want Daniela to enjoy her childhood, and not have her family members pocket that money to pay their dad-gum bills.
Last year, I told Daniela that I wanted to buy her another bicycle because the one I bought for her a year or two prior was sold by her family. Daniela was exhilarated by that offer. I got her uncle on the phone and explained that I was willing to pay him a fee if he took Daniela to the shop to buy her a bicycle. I emphatically told him “not” to sell it this time. It is strictly for Daniela's enjoyment. After wiring the money, I followed up with a phone call. Her grandmother got on the phone sounding excited, and assured me that Daniela was extremely happy.
However, when I finally got hold of Daniela, the excitement that she initially expressed was no longer there. She sounded very sad, and told me that she needed $100 for school supplies, Hmmmm—very strange. With my travel experience, I know how adults play games to fleece gringos. It’s just a shame that they would train an 11-year-old to be so dishonest. if my father ever caught me doing such a thing at that age (and he did!), that was an automatic “ass-whipping.” I have a sneaky suspicion that Daniela did not receive the bicycle. Just last week, I asked her if she would like me to buy her a bicycle. She said, “yes.” Then I immediately asked, “what happened to the one that I bought you.” She then realized, so it seemed, that she spilled her own beans, and insisted that it's in the house.
During my visits to Perú, I would always take care of Daniela personally. I bought her many gifts that she no longer has. What happened to them? I remember teaching her how to tell time when she was 7, then bought her a clock for her room. That clock immediately disappeared. Did her family sell all those gifts for cheap profits, or what? At one point, I was sending money directly to Daniela’s mother and grandmother with the understanding that the benefits of those funds will trickle down to Daniela. Maybe this is so, and maybe not. Meanwhile, I’m trying to think of creative ways to bring more joy to Daniela's life without people capitalizing on my generosity. Sooner or later, I will think of something!!!