Volunteers

Having “The Talk” With Our Girls (and Jeffry)

Let me just start by saying, village life isn’t nearly as quiet and peaceful as we expected at times. This has been the week of fiestas – the usual Sunday soccer party, our neighbor Diana’s 9th birthday, the fiesta of Las Reinas (the Queens) and this weekend a fiesta in celebration of Coyona, our neighboring village. I will have the music of rural Peru playing in my brain for months to come 🙂

Last Sunday we did the community clean-up project with the youth. We took the opportunity to put the planning of it in their hands to let them get some practice organizing a project and delegating responsibilities. They did an incredible job creating a plan and participating. They divided up into four teams and each chose a specific area of San Francisco to clean up. They were all in charge of spreading the word to family and friends and also made a public announcement over a loudspeaker. We collected sacks and sacks of trash – wrappers, old shoes, batteries, everything imaginable. As my team wandered over to pick up the trash behind one man’s home, I discovered that the trash was mired in a swampy pit of human waste – waste which is running through the center of town via a small creek and which animals were feeding on. The man who lives there is too elderly to walk far into the mountains for the “bathroom” and so has been simply using the small creek behind his home, probably for years. I knew that bathroom sanitation is our most serious health risk in San Francisco, but I didn’t realize that it was as bad as raw sewage literally running through the street. It’s sad to see a community which is progressing so rapidly in so many other ways suffering this kind of indignity. I hope that we can do something about this situation in particular in the next few months.

Recently Curtis and I taught the Sex Ed class to the kids. It was by far my favorite class that we’ve ever done with them. None of the girls have ever had any sex ed classes in high school and their parents have avoided any kind of discussion. So we both felt really motivated to talk with them about sex, gender roles, contraception and STDs. It’s probably the most important knowledge that we have to impart to a group of adolescent girls who have practically no access to information or adult guidance. And because it is a subject that they really want to understand, they were great at participating, asking questions and paying attention. It’s a big responsibility to be their only exposure to accurate knowledge at this moment. We made sure that they all know that our doors are open to come by and ask questions or talk in private and I really hope that they do drop by and talk to us. We’ll never know exactly what kind of effect this class has on their lives, but I sense that it’s this information more than anything else we teach that might really have a direct impact.

We’ll be back in a couple of weeks to update again. We are having a big dinner in Piura with my parents who will be visiting, Curtis and Carly, Rolando, Javier AND Zoila and Meli (my host family). I am so excited to have the opportunity to introduce my parents to Zoila and Meli and to make a special celebration of Meli’s 12th birthday. It should be a wonderful culture-clashing, linguistically challenging event and an awesome opportunity to spoil my little sister. I’ll be heading off to Mancora to spend some time with my parents (!!!), but we should be wrapping up the final youth classes at that time and moving on to the much-awaited project planning 🙂

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