Valentina Charlotta – one of our most important employees

Thanks to her things are starting to move

She is only 15 months old, but she already plays an important role at Diospi Suyana.  Her father Jose Rojas and her mother Tamara run our mission’s guest house in Lima.  As her parents also complete several bureaucratic procedures, they fight against the viscous bureaucracy week by week.

“Where are you going?” I ask Jose.  He and his daughter are ready to head out into the capital’s unclement weather.

“We have to hand in some forms at the Immigration Authority!” is the Peruvian’s answer and he grins.  I also smile, since I know exactly why he is holding the golden-red beauty on his arm: as soon as he sits Valentina down on the official’s counter wonderful things suddenly start to happen.

Rather than being told: “Come back next week, my computer is on the blink,” the administrator will call: “Wait a moment, we will have this sorted in a moment!”  And should a few ticks or crosses be missing on the form, this slip-up will immediately be “taken care of” in the presence of Valentina Charlotte. “Of course I will help you fill in the form!” the bureaucrat will intentionally assure us.  This is way better than the look of reproach one receives from the state employee and the ensuing negative condemnation: “You have not even ticked the boxes correctly.  Go home.  That is where I am heading right now!”

Everyone who lives in South America knows what I am speaking about.  Latinos are extremely fond of children.  Even the most unfriendly official suddenly becomes affable and cooperative when faced with a beautiful face of a child.  This love of children is a wonderful phenomenon of the Latin-American culture.

One late afternoon in Quito, Ecuador in 1998: we wanted to get our boxes out of customs and the official growled at me: “You’re too late, come back another time!”

I turned round on the spot and dashed into the waiting room, where my wife and children were waiting.  “I need the kids now, otherwise nothing will happen today!”

Two minutes later our children had queued up behind the counter.  Irresistible children’s faces.  One sweeter than the other.  ”Hmmm“, grumbled the Ecuadorian, “I will see what I can do!“

A split second later we were standing outside with all our possessions and started loading the van. /KDJ


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