Juntos en Peru!

Curtis and Carly are here!! I am so excited to share with them this experience of living and working in a rural Peruvian community. We actually bumped into each other a day early at a hotel in Piura and went for an amazing dinner of cebiche and lomo saltado – love the Peruvian food. We searched high and low until we found an amazing, affordable place to call our Piura home, wandered the market for hours, met Rolando and Javier for the first time and explored Piura a bit more. Curtis and Carly are full of fresh ideas, creativity and energy for the project, and we are all so enthused about what we are doing.

As for what’s happened in the last several weeks, Javier has finished processing the socio-economic data recently collected for San Francisco. We have 77 occupied homes, all made of adobe and all lacking electricity, with a total population of 283 people. Most striking and most inspiring is the jump in education of women in just one generation. The data shows that of mothers in San Francisco, 33 have received no education whatsoever, 37 attained primary level education and only 3 attended secondary school. Informally, I can say that virtually all youth here are now being educated in secondary school, although not all finish. I’m struck by the ambition of some of our students, children of barely educated mothers:  Malu (14 yr) wants to be an obstetrician, Meliza (11 yr) a nurse or a doctor, Marlis (13 yr) a teacher or a doctor.

We have completed 7 classes since my last update: Anatomy, Hygiene, Basic Illnesses, First Aid I and II, Communication and Self Esteem. Almost all of this information is new to the Youth Health Promoters, so it’s a lot to take in. Just in the last two classes, I have seen some change in the participation and comfort level of the students. Like any class, we have two or three students who are more confident and have always participated more willingly. The others have been challenging – timid and very embarrassed to participate except in the context of a game. The obstetrician who helped us with the Nutrition and Anatomy classes explained that a lack of self-confidence among students here in the remote sierra is very common – completely different from students in Piura or Lima who are exposed to more ideas, new people and active participation in school. We’d like to make outside-of-class activities a priority from now on– getting to know each other better, building trust and having fun.

Our originally planned trip to the two high schools of the Youth Health Promoters (Coyona and Barrios) to inform both teachers and students about our project was delayed by a three week national school vacation because of swine flu. However, we are planning to go to both schools in the coming week and it will be the first opportunity the youth have had to speak about the project publicly. We are also moving forward on our community vegetable garden! The profe has advised us on what is best to grow in this area and offered to raise the seeds until they are seedlings. While here in Piura, we are going to buy seeds and a hose. Once we have seedlings we will prepare the land as a group and set up a watering schedule with the youth. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to start working with our Health Promoters outside of the classroom, completing a project which will be lots of fun and will definitely make a positive difference in community nutrition.

We are slowly, but steadily navigating bureaucracy in pursuit of a landfill. The district of Canchaque has a technical expert who is willing to come to San Francisco in August to survey the land and explore appropriate and environmentally safe locations for the landfill. We are also brainstorming more about the logistics of a recycling program. I have really high hopes that we will move forward on implementing a reasonable waste management system. People in San Francisco deserve better than to have to live with their trash in the streets and contaminating the creeks.

All in all, I feel confident that the project is progressing successfully. I know that projects and ideas are going to speed up even more now that we have our entire MEJOR Communities team here and I can’t wait to see where the opportunities take us.


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