Friday, January 6, 2017

Promesa Peru 2016 Year in Review

The year 2016 is in the books, and it was an active 12 months. Promesa Peru sponsored seventeen activities, including four chocolatadas. As usual most of the school project activities occurred in the first and second quarters. This is what we’ve come to refer to as the ‘panic period’ when teachers discover they have more students than anticipated and don’t have enough classroom furnishings, teaching aids and general supplies to accommodate them. Remember, when we say ‘school’ we’re usually referring to pronoeis that are not government funded. It’s up to the community to supply the pronoeis, and that is usually a financial impossibility.

The average school project cost was $359, a bit below previous years’ averages, largely because transportation costs were reduced. These projects generally involved donating whiteboards, storage shelves, tables and chairs. Noticeably absent this year were requests for uniforms and school supplies. We donated uniforms just once; to the primary and kinder school in Las Salinas. We were asked for and did furnish teaching aids to several schools, including puzzles, tangrams, books and games, but were not asked to supply the basics like pencils and paper. We’re not sure why that is but would like to think that perhaps Peru’s economic growth over the past few years has finally started to trickle down to the small villages, allowing parents to provide at least those few basics for their children.

The average cost of the four chocolatadas was $178. That figure is somewhat misleading because the San Francisco-Campodonico and Los Bances chocolatadas did not include entertainment, and Los Bances has only fourteen students which reduced the cost for toys. And speaking of entertainment, we’ve about decided not to hire professional entertainers for next year’s chocolatadas. These kids are from three to five years old. They live in remote villages in safe, familiar environments. They become frightened of the clowns we've typically used. This year we used a mother and daughter team who specialize in entertaining kids in this age group, but still the kids took a long time to relax and understand what was being asked of them during the games. Even the entertainers commented that the kids were more difficult to work with than city kids. Wherever we go kids seem to immediately warm up to Maribel, so we think that, with Maribel leading, we can come up with a half-hour program of simple games and activities that the kids and parents would understand and enjoy. We'll do a trial run to see what happens when we start visiting villages in February.

Twelve of the seventeen projects took place in the Tucume District. We had hoped to focus on other districts, but Tucume is where the phone calls came from. We believe we’ve pretty much saturated that district and would like to target the Mochumi (moe-chew-me) and San Jose districts this year. The mayor of San Jose has shown a strong interest in partnering with us to provide for the pronoeis in his district. We plan to visit the city hall in Mochumi soon to introduce ourselves and get information about the villages and pronoeis in that district.

This was our best year ever in terms of number of villages and students served, and donations received. Every year at year-end we tell ourselves that we need to cap our activities; that we’ve reached the maximum we can handle, but every year we do more projects than the previous year. Part of the reason is that increased donations have allowed us to do more, but also because we’re aware that there are still so many schools out there who need help. It would be nice if we had a regular core of volunteers we could call on to help with the purchase, organization and delivery of donated items, but volunteerism isn't the custom in Chiclayo. People expect to be paid for their work. We don't fault anyone for that, but no one working with Promesa Peru including us will ever be paid, so we'll continue on with the occasional volunteer help we do get. Instead of trying to put an arbitrary limit on our activities in 2017 we’ll probably just keep going until we hit the physical, mental or financial wall.

Absolutely crucial to our continued work are people like Chris Raupe, Amy Brown, “a friend in America”, Johany Glen/Webster University, Denny Wallette, Judy Berkow, and the Alice Cool Foundation. Without you folks, nothing happens.

We and they thank you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

San Jose’s 160th Anniversary

Though the area presently occupied by the city of San Jose was populated before written history, it was on January 2 1856 that a resolution was officially passed recognizing San Jose as a district. At that time San Jose was the only port city in the entire Lambayeque Region. And given Peruvian’s penchant for formality we can assume that a ceremony not too different from yesterday’s activity took place, perhaps on the same spot.

The day began with an 8:00 AM mass at the city’s only church, located directly across the street from city hall. The mayor, local dignitaries and invited officials from neighboring districts were in attendance.

Following mass the event location shifted to Miguel Grau park; the city’s main park, where an officer stiffly marched to the mayor’s front and asked permission to begin the day’s activities. Permission being granted, a band began playing martial music while officials were introduced, and citizens who had made contributions of some sort to San Jose during the past year were recognized.

Maribel and I were presented with a plaque in appreciation for Promesa Peru’s donation to the pronoei in the village of Bodegones last October. We are looking forward to working with the mayor and his staff this year to help other needy schools in the San Jose district.

Other attractions yesterday were displays of local artisan’s crafts, music by a band that had recently formed in the city, food – there is always lots of food at any Peruvian activity, and two very good marinera dancers, shown in the photo along with our friends Juanita and Mark who said they enjoyed the experience.  

San Jose has not seen much progress since that day in 1857, and it could be said that it has regressed as it is no longer a port city. New houses are not made of adobe anymore but they are of the same design and simplicity. There are no hotels or commercial enterprises. It is first and foremost still a fishing city, backed up by boat builders and net makers. Life is simple, and one gets the feeling San Joseans like it that way.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Promesa Peru 2016 Financial Report

During the year 2016 Promesa Peru took part in seventeen activities. They were:

Month            Activity                                                                       Expense  

April              Patapo pronoei                                                              $53.13

April              Monsefu pronoei                                                          331.52

April              Las Salinas primary                                                     545.77

May               Los Sanchez  pronoei                                                   587.64

June               El Carmen pronoei                                                       357.33

June               Moyocupe pronoei                                                       330.01

June               San Antiono pronoei                                                   286.34

June               Alto Peru                                                                        357.72

July               Tabacal pronoei                                                            355.68

August           Los Sanchez pronoei                                                   112.59

August           Surupampa pronoei                                                   604.66

September     Bodegones  pronoei                                                   533.78

October          Los Bances  pronoei                                                   204.86

December      San Francisco, Campodonico chocolatada            140.49

December      El Carmen chocolatada                                              216.16

December      Alto Peru chocolatada                                                238.72

December      Los Bances chocolatada                                              85.69

December      Misc items for the four chocolatadas                       30.86

                                                           Total expenses                    $5,372.95


Source                                                                                                Amount

Public donations                                                                             $5,166.41

Promesa Peru board member donations                                          65.00

                                                          Total donations                      $5231.41

                                                           Beginning balance                    505.57

                                                           Total funds available            $5736.98

                                                           Total expenses                        5,372.95

                                                            Ending balance                      $364.03

This was our best year ever in terms of number of villages and students served, and donations received. Our thanks to all who contributed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

If it’s raised or grown in Peru... can find it in Moshoqueque. Moshoqueque is like a small city inside Chiclayo that is dedicated mostly to selling food. In terms of size it dwarfs Chiclayo’s famed mercado modelo. To someone not accustomed to third-world farmer markets it is blocks and blocks of absolute bedlam.

Moshoqueque awakens at about 3:30 AM when farmers begin converging on the site with trucks full of produce and livestock. And there are buyers there to greet them at that hour. Many of the buyers have kiosks on the spot to resell whatever they buy. Other shoppers are from small grocery stores in Chiclayo, or come from small villages miles away. These people are buying for their families, but also probably sell to neighbors much of what they purchase. It’s worth it to get up at that time and to travel some distance; prices in Moshoqueque for a comparable food item can be as much as half of what it would cost in a store.

Streets in the area that were once asphalt paved now look like scarred battlefields. Wondering the aisles through rows of kiosks crammed with people is at first awkward, but there is a rhythm to the traffic and once found walking is manageable.

Many of the kiosks are selling identical items, with only a slight variance in price. There are sections where a particular product is dominant, for instance fish or meat. And there is a section of several square blocks where livestock is sold. Here you can buy live chickens, turkeys, ducks, rabbits, sheep, pigs, goats, calves and I don’t know what else. Only the calves were allowed to stand. The sheep, pigs and goats were lying on their sides with their legs tied. If you don’t want to kill the animal yourself, there are men nearby who will kill and clean it for you. These men are very aggressive and will be in your face the moment you stop to look at an animal.

We were in Moshoqueque this morning in search of a ham. We were not able to locate a cured ham anywhere in Chiclayo so decided that a fresh ham would have to do. We were told that many vendors in Moshequeque sold fresh hams at half the price of a Tottus or Plaza Vea supermarket, and that turned out to be true.

The ham that Antonio is holding weighs 8.8 lbs and cost $14.30, or $1.63 per lb. The Plaza Vea price was $2.97 per pound. Curiously, Antonio does not buy pigs from the farmers who deliver to Moshoqueque, but instead buys from a farmer in Morrope, because he says the meat is tender with better flavor. He doesn’t kill his pigs, instead hiring a man to do it.

Our New Year’s Eve dinner, traditionally eaten at midnight will not be the ham I’m accustomed to. It won’t have the red color or the smoky, salty taste. It will be what amounts to a pork roast, but hopefully with cloves, pineapple slices and a honey glaze it will satisfy us and the rest of the family, who don’t know what a cured ham tastes like anyway.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Congratulations Brian!...

...for achieving your degree in business administration. It probably seems to you as if it took forever to reach the point in life you are at now. To your mother and for a shorter time me, it was the blink of an eye.

Your mother remembers attending your kinder graduation as if it were yesterday. You were five, and probably didn’t have much of an idea what the ceremony was about, but to her it was the accomplishment of your first educational milestone. And like all mothers, she was proud of “her Brian” and had thoughts and dreams of your future success.

I was here for your grade school graduation and vividly remember you proudly escorting your mother up the stairs to the second-floor ballroom, to be formally presented to the other graduates and their families.

I didn’t know at the time that you had been elected ‘mayor’ of your graduating class, so was surprised when you stood to make a speech. There you were; microphone in hand scanning the audience as you spoke, as if this was something you did every day. I told your mother that I was impressed with the way you conducted yourself the entire evening, and that you probably had the tools to be very successful. She already knew that.

Last Saturday your mother and I and other members of your family attended your college graduation party. I can’t begin to estimate the number of people who were there, certainly in the high hundreds. I do know there were dozens of professors, other graduates and friends who stopped at our table to speak with you and share your and their happiness.

It was fun watching the hundreds of young graduates, all dressed to the nines dancing, drinking, and laughing. You and they certainly earned this party. It’s been a tough four years at a top-rated university that has a reputation for being demanding.

In May your formal cap-and-gown graduation takes place. We’ll be there to applaud your triumph. You did it Brian…you did it! We’re proud, and we hope you are too.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Pablo the Pavo

This is Pablo the pavo. He was given to us by the folks from the village of Los Bances. He is now living on our roof. While that is not unusual, most people don’t have a turkey living on their roof, even in Chiclayo, but as the holiday season approaches, the roof-top turkey population soars. Many Peruvians who don’t raise their own turkeys prefer to buy them alive, because they know what the bird has eaten in its last days; usually corn and lettuce, and that it was fresh.

There are two kinds of turkeys in Peru…black and white. Whites are raised for their meat on large scale turkey farms. They are mostly sold in the frozen food sections of supermarkets. Pablo is a black, which means he was raised in semi-wild conditions, often having to fend for himself in terms of food and shelter, though his owner would provide just enough food to keep him in the area. As a result blacks are thin and tough to eat. Peruvians prefer blacks because they say the flavor is better.

Gobbling and peeping turkeys are sort of the unofficial Christmas carolers in Chiclayo. Walking the streets, especially in the early morning is a treat if you like turkey music. Our turkey doesn’t gobble. He peeps a lot. That’s because he is not quite full grown. Unfortunately for Pablo his time to grow is limited. On the morning of the 24th Pablo will bid the world goodbye. There is no hope for a presidential reprieve.

Pablo doesn’t know his time is limited, and even if he did he probably wouldn’t react. Turkeys seem to me to be pretty stupid. You can pick them up and they don’t do anything. People walking downtown selling turkeys usually have two in each hand, held upside down by the legs. The turkeys bend their necks so that they can see things right side up, which looks really comical, but that’s the only thing they do, seemingly not concerned with their circumstances.

You can take them in a vehicle – car, combi, taxi or mototaxi (shown) and they sit quietly, as if enjoying the ride. When in a vehicle though, you need to have them wrapped. Turkeys are fierce poopers. I mean, pooping is something they are really good at, second only to eating. Most vehicle drivers won’t transport an unwrapped turkey, and if they do you probably don’t want to ride in that vehicle.

At midnight on December 25th Pablo will once again be the center of attention. More precisely he’ll be in the center of a platter, surrounded by empanadas, sweet potatoes and other items that have given their all for the cause. 

Thank you Pablo.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A good time at the Los Bances and Alto Peru chocolatadas

We didn’t miss a beat this morning when our transport phoned 30 minutes before our scheduled 9:00 AM departure to tell us that he couldn’t make it. Living in Chiclayo you learn that things like that are normal. Two days before we had discussed that possibility and had plan B and plan C in place if necessary. Plan B worked just fine.

Our first stop was Alto Peru where we unloaded all the items for their chocolatada including the entertainers, and then proceeded to Los Bances where Martha, the kids and parents were waiting for us. The classroom is so small that there was barely room for the things we brought. The chocolatada meal was to be eaten in some other location. We stayed just long enough for the parents and kids to see and appreciate the items we delivered, and to listen to some speeches. The good news is that Martha will have a different, larger classroom next year for her 20 students. When she asked about the possibility of Promesa Peru helping with some additional furniture we told her to call us when the new term begins next March.

On our way out Martha presented us with a live turkey on behalf of the parents association in appreciation for our earlier donations and the chocolatada. That is a kingly gift in Peru, where a live mature turkey sells for a minimum of $40. On the combi ride back to Chiclayo the turkey was mostly tranquil; peeping only occasionally. The other passengers didn’t pay any attention to it.

The cost for the Los Bances chocolatada was:

Toys - $23.47
Paneton – 29.33
Candy – 20.41
Transportation – 12.48
Total - $85.69

Back at Alto Peru everything had been unpacked and organized. The ‘Chikidalinas’ entertained for an hour. Perhaps it was because there were more of them, but these kids were even more energetic than those at El Carmen last Friday.

As usual the men and older villagers did not attend, but many of them could be seen watching from a distance. And some were seemingly not interested at all; just going about their normal business.

The traditional meal was served after the entertainers had finished. The chicken had an especially delicious flavor to it. I’m told the flavor came from a special marinade.

The kids were a bit reserved when receiving their toys. We suspect that was because their mothers had told them to conduct themselves properly. We’ve noticed that discipline in these remote villages is a concept that is strongly enforced and followed.

The Alto Peru chocolatada cost:

Toys - $110.00
Paneton – 33.83
Candy – 11.77
Entertainment – 52.86
Transport – 30.25
Total - $238.71

Both the Los Bances and Alto Peru chocolatadas were made possible by Chris Raupe, “a friend in America”, Amy Brown, Denny Wallette and others. Thank you.

The completion of these chocolatadas today will mark the end of Promesa Peru’s activities for this year. It’s been a good year. We’re looking forward to 2017.