Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Welcome to Puerto Arturo

Puerto Arturo is a small village located within walking distance of the town of Reque, which straddles the Pan-American highway about 15 miles south of Chiclayo. Like many of Peru’s older remote desert villages, Puerto Arturo presents the over-all appearance of a deteriorating, tired town. There are many old crumbling residences and the town’s park has gone to seed. One feels that if there ever was a sense of community it was lost to the past long ago. Part of the explanation for the abandoned buildings and lack of vibrancy in the community is that many younger families have moved to larger cities where opportunities to earn a living are better, leaving behind the older folks with their memories. The young people who do remain are either subsistence farming or working during the day in one of the nearby cities.

One institution that is alive and well in Puerto Arturo is the school. I.E.N 10043 has been educating kids ages 4 through 13 for many years before sending them off to high school in Reque. Present enrollment is about 50 kids, though that number can fluctuate wildly day-to-day depending on if the kid’s help is needed in the fields or at home.

Zenaida Guevara has been teaching 1st and 2nd grade kids for 27 years at this school. She likes kids and enjoys her job. She says that after 27 years every day is still a little different. She took pride in showing us “things that cost nothing”… bottle caps, old tires and plastic bottles filled with sand that are used effectively for physical exercise and games for the kids.

Ninfa Milian is a 22 year veteran at I.E.N 10043. She teaches the 5th and 6th grades. Besides the basics she enjoys getting the kids interested in art and literature to “make them aware of their creative abilities.”

Malu Julca is an unpaid teaching assistant working with the younger kids. She is majoring in education at Pedro Ruiz Gallo University in Lambayeque. She loves working with kids and they obviously love her.

The woman in this photo (she asked that her name not be used) lives at the school in a small unused classroom.  She does the cooking for the kids, cleans the classrooms, and is responsible for security. Today she is cooking rice pudding as part of the government’s “Vaso de Leche” program (daily glass of milk) for poor school kids. Besides milk, government donated food for qualifying poor schools includes rice, flour and bread supplied by contract with local vendors.

We were at the school at the invitation of Isabel Paredes who teaches the middle grades and is presently acting director. Isabel was the assistant director of the school in Las Colmenas where we sponsored a chocolatada last December and has asked if we could do the same for the Puerto Arturo school.

We were impressed with the attitude of the teachers and kids and think this school is deserving, but if they are going to have a Christmas party this year we need help. Peru’s economy continues to grow rapidly – although outlying areas have yet to see any benefit, and with it has come rising inflation. Prices for many of the items needed for a chocolatada… chocolate milk, paneton, toys and services have risen by as much as 20% over last year, while the dollar has dropped to a low of 2.58 soles. It is becoming more difficult for us to sponsor these activities. We need contributions if we are to continue our efforts. If you would like to help sponsor a Christmas chocolatada in Puerto Arturo next month please visit the Promesa Peru website. 

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