Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Village of Las Colmenas

The first hour of the hour and ten minute drive to the village of Las Colmenas is a pleasant and relaxing ride. The entire road from Chiclayo to Las Colmenas and beyond to Chongoyape has recently been repaved, so the potholes that in the past made that journey literally a pain in the gluteus maximus have been eliminated. Once past the sugar cane towns of Pomalca, Tuman and Patapo the scenery changes to mountains on the immediate left and a lush green agricultural valley about one mile wide on the right. Rice and sugar cane dominate, but banana plantations and vineyards have a significant presence.

Las Colmenas isn’t located directly on the highway. You need to get off the combi at the Tocmoche intersection about a mile before reaching Chongoyape. There, if you’re lucky, a moto taxi will be waiting to take you to Las Colmenas and school I.E. 11249, which is where we were going at the invitation of Juan Garcia Posada, the school’s director. During the ten minute ride the moto taxi struggles mightily to first climb and then descend hills, all the while navigating through rocks the size of soccer balls, plus fording a wide but shallow stream. Cows share the road with moto taxis – neither seeming to mind the occasional bumping into each other.

This is main street. The gate to the school is on the right. The town looks to be about ¼ mile in length. I didn’t see any cross streets so I assume main street is probably the only street. It’s difficult to imagine riding this road for another three hours to the village of Tocmoche.

The school has three classrooms plus an administration office/textbook storage room. There are 44 students between the ages of 6 and 12 attending primary classes from 8:00am to 1:00pm. Students graduating from primary have to go to Chongoyape for the secondary level. There are 20 students attending kinder from 9am to 12pm in a separate building constructed two years ago with donations from a charity located in Spain.

Many of these kids are from the immediate area though some walk an hour each way to and from school. Their parents are engaged in subsistence agriculture, and following school each day the kids will probably be in the fields or tending farm animals and poultry. None of them have school uniforms and most of them don’t have shoes, wearing instead the plastic clogs generally prohibited by school policies. Adults in the photo (l-r) are Yayny who is in charge of the vaso de leche program, teacher Isabel, and director Juan. They have been associated with the school for many years.

We were invited to the school because Juan had heard of the activities of Promesa Peru. He asked if it would be possible to provide a Christmas party (Chocolatada) for the kids, as neither the school nor the community has ever been able to afford one. Our visit yesterday convinced us that this community is deserving. Our goal is to provide hot chocolate, Paneton, a clown and music for entertainment and some modest toys for each kid on Tuesday December 20th. If you’d like to help us please visit the Promesa Peru webpage.


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