My Cinderella story

Quinoa and wild turnip, blowing in the Chillcapata wind.

At the end of the beautiful day I spent in Chillcapata, Peru visiting families who’d received animals and trainings through the FEED program of Heifer International... after I’d stuffed myself at the delicious lunch the community had prepared and gone nuts over all the adorable babies… one of the moms, Carmen Calle, asked me to be the godmother of her daughter Leidy.

Which meant I would be responsible for cutting off the long, black braids Leidy had been growing since birth – a rite of passage when Peruvian children reach the age of 6 or 7.

Although I’d been dazzled all afternoon by Leidy’s adorable grin, I was shocked and chagrined at this turn of events, although everybody else in the room seemed pretty much delighted at the idea. I asked Rosaluz Salazar, my Heifer translator, if this was culturally appropriate and what I was committing myself to (like the Catholic sanctity of the child’s soul), and she assured me it was fine, it was a ritual honor, I could snip and go.

So, armed with a scissors and surrounded by dozens of witnesses, I cut through Leidy’s thick black braids – and voila! she was my god-daughter.

Actually, Leidy’s my fourth god-daughter, since I’m the proud (though intermittently present) godmother of three other gorgeous girls: Marie, Maura and Lottie. I fully understand (through the ministrations of my own incredible godmother, Edythe Mendolia) that my responsibilities are to never miss birthdays or Christmas, and to give lavish presents whenever possible.

After the haircut ...what a beautiful girl!

I hope I never let Leidy down in that department. As the fairy godmother, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

p.s. Just a thought for Passover/Easter: Why not give real eggs (via a real chicken!) to a family like Leidy’s?  Click here for a Chick … and here’s a Chillcapata bouquet of thanks!!

Categories: Children, Passover & Easter, Peru, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Post navigation

21 thoughts on “My Cinderella story

  1. OK, hands down (or hairs off), this is my absolute favorite of all time!

  2. Ginger O'Neill

    Wow Betty,

    My girls would never part with their long hair. At least at that age, girls are not as vain. Then again, my spoiled American girls would not have the worldly wisdom that these remarkable girls and women have in so many of these less-advantaged countries to see the value of tradition and ritual.


    • Obviously, my daughter didn’t get the “let’s cut your hair” memo either! Oh well .. it’s good to have something to look forward to (like lopping off about a foot of her blondeness!) ha! xoxoxo b

  3. It looks like you cut off approximately the same amount from both sides! Wow! I could tell you felt honored being asked to do it…I would too!

    • Oh, I was trying to make it even, but I didn’t do a very good job — REALLY wish I could go back and clean up the lines!! I WAS honored to be the godmother and believe me, that girl hasn’t seen the last of me. When she’s 16, I’m flying her up here and showing her America!!

  4. This was wonderful. More videos! More videos!

    • Renee –You may regret you asked for more videos, after you see the next one (how’s that for a teaser??) Actually, you of ALL people will totally dig it! I leave for China/Tibet/Nepal tomorrow (ye gads) but will still be posting about Peru for a few weeks … but I promise I’ll take mucho videos from over there, just for you, darling!!

  5. Ah, congrats on your new god-daughter. What a sweetie! I’m with Renee–more videos!

  6. Martha Radatz

    What fun, and what a darling girl. I remember being comadre for a First Hair Cutting of a little boy in one of the villages near Cuzco.

    • Martha — I KNOW! they let the boy’s hair grow, too … I love that tradition !!! So cool that you know Peru so well … I love hearing from you!!

  7. I’ll bet that the sound of that scissors cutting through Leidy’s hair will always stay with you.


    • Oh yeah, Ronnie — how many kids in the US would let you just come in and whack off their braids?? She was so adorable about it, though — just smiled thru the whole thing!!!

  8. Thanks for sharing a special moment with us.

  9. I thought the last post was the most moving I’ve ever read, but this one has left me speechless. 😀

    I can’t imagine how you must’ve felt when you were handed that scissors. The video was a great addition to the post because it brought us into the room with you. I love the informality of the woman casually standing nursing her kid while the very important ceremony was taking place.

    The orange flowers in the last photo grow wild on the hills around here – we call them California Poppies!

    • Thanks so much, Rosie — it was a VERY big event for me, and I cannot tell you how sweet Leidy is (just like my OTHER goddaughters!) …
      she just sat there and smiled at me with all her might. My heart MELTED! And oh yeah — thanks for the ID on the flowers!!!

  10. Loved this, Betty. Both my girls donated their long hair to Lots of Locks when they were about 7, so this touched me deeply. I watched the video about 4 times.

  11. George Weaver

    What a lovely child…without the braids too. I just hopped on over to Heifer to send real chicks. You are a fantastic ambassador for every country you visit. I am enjoying this trip!

    • George, you are amazing!! I love that you bought chicks .. and I’m telling you .. that counts for a LOT up there where there is so little protein to eat!! Love it!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: