Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Village of Collique Alto

I read somewhere that one should not use superlatives lightly because they will have been all used up when you really need them. Looking back at some of the posts I’ve written about villages, I see I was too liberal with the use of words such as ‘remote’ and ‘desolate’ and ‘poverty stricken’ and ‘middle of nowhere.’ I should have saved those words for the village of Collique (‘ko-yee-kay’) Alto and the Jose Carlos Mariategui School.

The school has existed for 35 years and according to veteran teachers (there are six for the 117 primary, 20 secondary and 12 kinder students) the school has never been remodeled or upgraded. Morning classes are for primary students only. They go home for the day at noon, which is when the secondary students arrive. This schedule exists because the school cannot provide lunches, so the kids hopefully eat a noon meal at home. The schedule also allows the secondary students to work in the fields in the morning, and the younger kids to work the fields in the afternoon.

This is the only school we’ve been to where uniforms are not mandatory. David, the school’s director explained that parents can’t afford uniforms, so the school has compromised and asks only that clothing be clean. Even that has got to be a chore because we didn’t see any concrete or asphalt within miles of the village. Nothing but dirt and sand everywhere, and some of these kids are walking several miles to and from school.

We visited the school at the suggestion of Promesa Peru Chiclayo board member Betzy Calderon who has a connection to the area through family and has a friend teaching at the school. Betzy is a full time student at the University of Sip├án where she studies administration. During her spare time she is a volunteer at a medical clinic in Chiclayo. When word spread that the ‘doctora’ was at the school, several mothers with sick children sought out Betzy to ask for advice.

It was through her teacher friend that Betzy learned the Collique Alto Christmas party was recently cancelled because parents were unable to raise the money. We’ve heard of Christmas parties being scaled back for lack of funds but never before cancelled. In our discussion we learned the situation is not unusual. I don’t know why Collique Alto seems to have ‘slipped through the cracks’ in all areas of government support but there’s no question that it has. Perhaps David and his teachers haven’t pounded on agency doors enough to demand attention, as most village school directors are forced to do.

We don’t get involved in politics, at least not yet, but through Promesa Peru we do get involved to the best of our ability in helping communities. We’re going to help these kids to have a Christmas party. We sure could use some assistance. Please visit the Promesa Peru web site at: to lend a hand.

Tom & Maribel


  1. I wish I could do more - but I am in for $10
    sent it through the old site


  2. doesn't take many $10 donations to reach our goals. With the support we've gotten so far from you and others it looks like the kids in Collique Alto AND Monte Hermoso are going to have their Christmas party. They and us thank you!

  3. We plan to do what we can to help throw a special Christmas party for the kids of Collique Alto. We sure applaud what you are doing there Tom and Maribel and everyone at Promesa Peru.

  4. Whoops - I now see that we are going to be going to Caballo Blanco. Sounds perfect.

  5. Laura and her group plan on coming to Peru and the village of Caballo Blanco in February to give the kids a Christmas party we were not able to provide, and to contribute other much needed assistance.

    Laura, when you’re ready and if you’d care to, feel free to write about your project and plans on the discussion forum of the Promesa Peru web page.

    We’re looking forward to meeting you.