Volunteers

Experiences and Photos – the first month

Wow, it is exceedingly difficult to start an entry aimed at explaining a whole month’s worth of time. But, I guess that’s about as good a start as any, right? I am torn between trying to explain the growth I have experienced or doing what I do best and just displaying photos. I feel a compromise is in order.

So this year we have 9 returning youth that have committed to being part of our project. As Jaime explained in his post, the waste management system did not seem to be an appropriate project between MEJORC and San Francisco at this time. After bringing the community together for a vote, they unanimously decided on building cocinas mejoradas instead. Right now, the soot on the walls and ceiling of the kitchens is incredibly thick and the ventilation is terribly inadequate. I’ve noticed that the women of San Francisco seem to constantly be coughing and Javier, at the health post, tells us that after people began understanding the disease cycle, respiratory illness became even more common than diarrhea. We recently sat in on a speech given by one of the candidates running for mayor here in October. He stressed the importance of reforestation and the detrimental effects of cutting down so much of the jungle around San Francisco. Cocinas mejoradas would decrease the amount of wood being used in the kitchens, saving more trees as well as time spent transporting them. I am excited about this project and what it means to the community. We are here in Piura and just about to meet with a man that can solidify our knowledge of the parts, construction, and cost required for the stoves.

Our time with the youth has been both inspiring and frustrating, which is maybe not a dichotomy you experience everyday. We gave the girls a chance to teach some younger students about important health topics from last year- first aid and balanced nutrition. Jaime and I felt it would be good practice before they begin filming their informative videos on the same subjects. The younger students seemed to really enjoy the classes and get a lot out of them but it was difficult to get last year’s youth to open up and get past their embarrassment of standing out amongst peers. We have also had a little bit of trouble getting them interested in actually putting together a project of any kind (which is, after all, the goal of this year). Having said that, it’s definitely very motivational to see the moments in their days when they get past their initial fears or take charge on a matter in a really logical and confident manner. They have showed a lot of excitement for filming the videos and we have been discussing ways to build the same enthusiasm for planning and executing the project.


Three of our youth, Yessica, Malu, and Meliza

I’ve talked a lot about the project but I definitely need to talk about the community and culture I have been so fervently getting to know. The people are awesome and I have been observing/helping out with daily activities here and there. Helping parts of my host family in the chacra:

On my birthday we cleaned the cemetery! It was a lovely reminder of the beauty contained in the cycle of life:

Also, we’ve gotten to attend some parties in the neighboring towns. The first party was a little shock for me but now that I know what to expect in regards to behavior with alcohol, they are pretty fun! One of the events I went to was for a meeting of the representatives from all the towns around here. It was a celebration of their alliance’s formation and I got to act in a couple comedy skits with some women from San Francisco. I’ve gotten used to the fact that everywhere I go, hundreds of eyes are on me at once, so now I can just play into it. Also, in San Francisco last weekend, the kids led the Independence Day celebrations. They made lanterns, led a parade, and danced some traditional dances:

So with that, we begin out next month. During the month of August, the youth will plan and begin filming their videos. They also will delegate responsibility for the cocinas mejoradas project, determining the roles they will play in the facilitation of the construction of the stoves. We plan on installing the first stove as a means to instruct the carpenters in town on how to properly build them. The youth will be part of this training so that they can go into the community and educate others on what to expect and when to expect it.

A couple more photos just for good measure:


The new health post


My favorite picture subjects

Until next month,
Monica

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