Volunteers

Mountains, Cows & Kids

Back in the big city… who thought Piura would look so metropolitan? With all thats happened in between, it’s amazing to think that we were only just here 2 1/2 weeks ago.

San Francisco is incredible. In the month that Carly and I traveled throughout Peru prior to arriving there we never came across a place so iconic and beautiful. The ride from Piura to San Francisco was all the introduction we needed. I won’t go into it, but lets just say 6 hours sitting on a raised board hovering above a pickup truck stuffed with chickens and pigs, with 25 of your newest best friends straight up a mountain side was….well exciting.

The best part of our arrival to San Francisco was immediately getting to meet our new host family. Carmen and Leoncio are the sweetest people one can imagine. We live with them and their rambunctious 5 year old grandson, Brian. The first week we showed up just also happened to be the same time Leo’s father and two sisters were in town to visit. Since his father had not made it all the way to San Francisco for the last five years, Leo promptly decided to slaughter a cow (which was soon draped in pieces over every single free space in and outside the house) and host a fiesta.

I have to admit both Carly and I were pretty nervous to walk into the health post that first night and be introduced to our class for the first time. After having heard some feedback from Val that the kids were a little nervous to participate, we had decided that our first class would be best spent getting to know one another with some fun games and activities. It actually worked out perfectly because their homework from the previous class had been the Yo Soy, Adonde Voy activity (who I am, and where I am going). Carly and I started with our own renditions of who we saw ourselves as being and where we thought we were headed in the future. The kids loved it and immediately warmed up to participating once they saw what silly fools we were willing to make out of ourselves.

I don’t know what I’d expected out of the students, but I have to say that whatever it is they have exceeded my thoughts. They are all incredibly nice well behaved kids, and they seem eager to learn. That’s not to say that they aren’t at times disruptive, but what group of teenagers isn’t? They are as Val described slightly timid, but I can already see in the two weeks we’ve been there that they’ve started to lighten up a bit. The important thing is that they are all so bright and willing to learn.

The one glitch in our first two weeks spent in San Francisco came as a result of our project planning and coordination. The first weekend we were there Rolando came to visit and survey the community. The first night we held a basic introductory community meeting which was incredible well received. After that meeting a parent of one of the health promoters approached us to inquire more about the community project. After several discussions and some advice from Rolando, a last minute meeting was called with the parents to discuss the idea of making some headway on an idea to introduce toilets as a project. The thought is that since San Francisco had just recently received municipal sewage lines, that the next step would be to make a push to help the residents install toilets. Basically this meeting helped us to learn a valuable lesson in community organizing in Peru. Everyone more or less left with the impression that the meeting had been more than a discussion and that Mejor would be purchasing them toilets. Whoops. Though the idea of a toilet project is still a possibility, we all need to backtrack on some of the discussions we’ve had in order to remind everyone that no project is meant to move forward until the youth in our classes are given a chance to organize it.

None the less, we’ve already grown to love our lives in San Francisco. The constant bananas, oranges, handmade chocolate and fresh cheese which all the residents shower on us every time we cross the street, might help to give you an idea of the kindness and generosity with which we’ve been received.

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