Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas means Chocolatada

When we first decided to ask for donations to help us sponsor various activities in the Lambayeque Region, we had no idea what to expect. We know the world economies are not doing great and there aren’t a lot of people standing in line to give away their money, but we needed help so thought we’d ask. The short story is that you answered the call. Thanks to the generosity of Chris, Maria, Jim, The North Hills Country Club of Menomonee Falls, Karen, Rose, The Wednesday Women’s Golf League of Germantown, Pauline, Ray and David, we’re able to sponsor two chocolatadas and contribute to a third. What follows happened and will happen because of you.

The Promesa Peru team arrived at the Jose Carlos Mariategui school in the village of Collique Alto on the 15th after a grueling 1½ hour combi ride. Nearly all of the non-perishable food along with balls, jump ropes and other gifts had been transported to the school some days in advance. Fifty pounds of chicken had been purchased the previous day. All we brought with us were bags of candy and 200 empanadas.

This is something I wish those of you who contributed could experience. To have 50 or so little kids rush up to you smiling and yelling and wanting to hug and kiss you to thank you for giving them a party…well…it just feels good. And that wasn’t all. Inside the classrooms were more kids waiting their turn to march out to greet us; each carrying either a Peruvian or American flag. Several of our team wiped away tears and I admit to a lump in my throat.

The kids, teachers and parents had obviously put some work into this party. There were signs expressing friendship, and each class from kinder through secondary put on dance/song performances that were very entertaining and made their parents proud. The Promesa Peru people on site for the party are Betzy, Maribel, me, Joyce and Yesenia.

We were told that the kids had never seen a clown so we brought one with us. When the clown first appeared many of the younger kids were frightened, and some of the parents looked uneasy, but Jorge aka “Kokoroko the Clown” did an excellent job of entertaining and involving the kids, parents and teachers.

It’s customary to prepare food and beverages for a chocolatada in the school’s kitchen or at the town’s community center but Collique Alto has neither, so the food was prepared at parents homes and brought to the school where the students ate in their classrooms. Each kid had a plate heaping with chicken, potatoes, paneton and empanadas plus all the chocolate milk they could drink. Looking at some of their faces I had the feeling that they had never seen so much food on their plate at one time.


For me personally the chocolatada I will enjoy most is one we didn’t sponsor; at least not directly and probably will not attend. The Jorge Ch├ávez Dartnel school will hold their chocolatada on the 21st. Our only contribution is a couple dozen balls for the school and bags of candy for the kids, which we dropped off today. The school doesn’t need any further help from us.

In September Promesa Peru supplied tools for the students to increase production and improve quality of their carved and painted gourd enterprise. The plan worked, and with the proceeds from their increased sales plus money from two bake sales the community is able to finance its own chocolatada. This is a great example of helping people to help themselves.


And with the money we have left over we will sponsor another chocolatada this coming Monday; this one in a very poor district right here in Chiclayo. These kids live in an area where the schools, churches and communities simply don’t have the money for parties. With the help of some friends in the area we’ve identified a number of needy families and are presently working on a location for the party.

We hope you feel good about the help you’ve provided. You’ve got our thanks as well as the thanks of the kids, parents and teachers.



  1. Tom and Maribel, thank you! you made my day!
    What a beautiful post. I am supposed to be baking cookies right now and instead I am here crying while reading your post. I am so happy the children had a nice party and a Chocolatada.

    My best wishes for a lovely Holiday for you and your loved ones. Lots of good health for you Tom, they need you in Chiclayo! :-)

    Maria (from very cold New Jersey)

  2. good job Tom!

    this is the best money ever spent!
    I should have bought some of those gords and had them sent to Lima for Christmas presents. That would have save me some excess baggage fees. I am leaving for Lima on Thursday!!