Monday, May 5, 2014

A Three Village Day

I often ponder on and am fascinated by the chain of events that lead to a particular experience. One such experience occurred recently when we visited the village of San Miguel and happened by chance to meet Marcos and Saida.  In talking with them we learned that they also are involved in charitable work. And like Promesa Peru, they have limited resources but do what they can…perhaps a bag of oranges to one family today and a pair of shoes to another family tomorrow.  They told us about several other villages near San Miguel and when they offered to show them to us we gladly accepted. Marcos and Saida are interesting people and fun to be with. I know we'll be seeing more of each other.

El Faicalito is a typical caserio with vast expanses of dirt and deteriorating adobe houses and poor families just managing to survive. The men are mostly involved in working in sugar cane fields and rice paddies. We saw a few farm animals probably for personal use.

About a year ago regional authorities constructed a small dry-wall structure to be used as a temporary kinder school because the kids were walking as much as one hour to other village schools, and those other schools were at maximum enrollment. The government has provided textbooks but nothing more. The few pencils and notebooks are shared. There is no white board and only a few borrowed chairs and tables.

Norma Urbina is the teacher. Though she is only 22 and a recent college graduate, she has a strong personality, obvious organizational and leadership skills and knows exactly what she wants. She needs basic school supplies for 25 students. She needs shelves to store and organize the text books and school supplies. She needs tables and chairs and a white board with markers.

The twelve students pictured will be graduating to first grade at the end of the cycle and going to a primary school in another village. The uniforms are on their third year and second set of kids and are showing their ware. Norma is proud of these kids and feels that, despite the classroom equipment limitations she did her best to prepare them to move on. 

As we were preparing to leave, an impromptu discussion took place outside the school with some women who had assembled. They told Maribel that one underlying problem of the village was too many babies to feed, clothe and educate. They asked for advice on what they could do, including operations, to prevent conception.  When Maribel suggested that the men could have vasectomies the women were horrified…they thought that meant the removal of the male organ. We’ve discussed a lot of issues in many villages but this is the first time birth control has come up.

Pancal was our next stop. It is a tiny caserio of about 20 families. There is no electricity and water is carried from a nearby reservoir.  The kids walk to a school in another village. We were invited to the home of a woman who administers the ‘glass of milk’ program. Though poor, people indicated they were ‘getting by’ and no one expressed any needs. We sat in the shade, talked, ate pomegranates fresh off a tree and drank Chicha de jora. Our travel companions Saida and Marcos are second and third from the left.

Eureka was our final stop. Everything written above about El Faicalito (except for the birth control discussion) is applicable to Eureka.  The school is overcrowded but is in good condition physically and supply wise. Flor Sera is the director, and when asked if there was anything she needed, she pointed to a set of twin girls and said the family was poor and the girls lacked clothing and school supplies. Another girl has similar issues.

This is Maria. She is an orphan living with her grandparents who are struggling financially. Maria often needs to borrow shoes and clothes and school supplies from other students. I don’t know if that situation troubles her, but it sure bothers me. We are going to talk more with the school director to see exactly what is needed to help Maria and the twins.

As we were leaving, Flor somewhat hesitantly broached the issue of uniforms. She said that most of the students have only one set of school clothes that are washed every night, but if the mother doesn’t have time to do that the child doesn’t come to school, and some days as many as a dozen students are absent. At one time there was an NGO from Spain operating in the Chiclayo area that focused on providing school uniforms to schools for that very reason. Flor asked if we would consider providing school uniforms to be kept at the school for the kids. Norma at El Faicalito didn't ask for uniforms but the need is evident. We can have quality two-piece uniforms made for $14.50 each. Flor has 56 students so we'd be looking at $812 and for Norma's 25 kids $363.  

We want to help Norma Urbina equip the school in El Faicalito. A white board with markers costs $65. The price for two metal five-shelf units is $72. 

We want to help Maria and the twins in Eureka with school supplies and clothing. We estimate about $125 total for the three girls. And if possible we'd like to provide at least some uniforms for the more needy of Flor's and Norma's students. 

The assistance we're talking about will help these kids to get a better education and perhaps a better quality of life. We’re going to need help to do this. If you’ve ever considered donating, please do it now at the Promesa Peru webpage. Thanks in advance.

No comments:

Post a Comment