Some important updates on the bakery project: First, we have finally opened! Last week, we hung up flyers, designed and printed a gigantic banner that reads “Cafeteria Leah and Friends,” and returned to Concepcion on Thursday to learn how to make bread. At first, it wasn’t clear if the baker was going to arrive to teach us, but just as we were about to leave, her husband welcomed us in and showed us the equipment. The following video documents the process of baking large quantities of bread. Unfortunately, only six of my students were able to attend the culinary lesson, but we had a great time experimenting with the ingredients. Upon returning home to Sano, we set up a small kiosk in front of the Paradero Turistico (a government-owned, open-air building where Expand Peru’s CASA program takes place), where we sold bread and coffee. I still have to do some calculations to reset the price in order to ensure profitability, but it was a rewarding feeling to watch the kids greet their first customers. Next week, we will transition to a more permanent location with chairs and tables, where we can set up a proper atmospheric restaurant.
From Friday through Sunday, I traveled with Alison, another Expand Peru volunteer, to Paracas to visit the Islas Ballestas, where we saw beautiful penguins, seabirds, and sea lions, and Huacachina. Huacachina is a desert oasis in Ica, about one hour from Paracas by bus, where we took a fast dune buggy tour and tried sandboarding. I haven’t traveled away from Huancayo since arriving in Peru two months ago because I didn’t want to take a vacation during critical developmental stages of the microbusiness project, but I enjoyed seeing another part of Peru. Peru truly is a country of diverse biomes, climates, and microcultures!
On another positive note, I finally started working at the SOS Children’s Village. The girls are very sweet and in their late teens. Over the next few weeks, I plan to work for about 1.5 hours every evening, teaching English, providing business consulting, where applicable, and helping them develop life skills (writing a CV, interviewing for a job, maintaining a personal budget, etc.). While I relish the freedom to institute my own projects and create my own schedule, several of the volunteers who are only working for two or so hours per day at Expand Peru’s tutoring project feel stressed by the lack of organization and wish they could contribute more to the social development of the children in the area. Expand Peru is definitely a worthwhile organization, but I would definitely recommend it to entrepreneurial volunteers who can function without much structure or guidance.
Here is a video of the bakery grand opening: