We live within 15 miles of Cùsupe; have ridden through it dozens of times and until last week didn’t even know it existed. It has no principal park, no medical clinic, no government buildings/institutions; it doesn’t even have the small Catholic Church that until now I thought was obligatory in every village. Though the village straddles a descent highway linking Chiclayo to Monsefù, there are no “Welcome to Cùsupe” or, “Thanks for visiting Cùsupe” signs, probably because there’s nothing to visit in Cùsupe. It’s not even possible to point to a specific location and say, ‘this is Cùsupe’ because there is no central location. Instead there are scatterings of dwellings separated by fields of rice, cotton, corn and pasture land. There is no need for stores or restaurants because Monsefù is only 5 minutes away by combi and Chiclayo not more than 20 minutes.
What Cùsupe does have is a school; I. E. I. 152 Cùsupe – Monsefù, which serves 60 kinder students from the surrounding area. We had been told that kids were going to school without shoes and that there were shortages of basic school supplies, so we visited Cùsupe this morning to check out the situation for ourselves. A woman on the combi we were riding said she was familiar with the village and told Maribel how to find the school. We got off where she told us to and walked in the direction she’d indicated.
After a mile of walking and seeing nothing that resembled a school we were fortunate enough to cross paths with this gentleman who graciously dismounted and explained that the school was about two miles in the opposite direction. While he was directing us I noticed that his cattle were continuing down the road at a pretty good pace. I was wondering how he was going to catch up to the herd when he remounted and took off as if Geronimo was chasing him. I didn’t know burros could run! Once back at the highway we took a moto-taxi the remaining mile to the school.
Señorita Maria del Rosario Senmache is the kinder school director and has taught there for 25 years. She is assisted by two additional contract teachers. She told us that, though Cùsupe is regarded as a poor area and is eligible for the government free food program, most of the people are hard-working and are able to ‘get by’ financially. The majority of families earn their living by selling their crops and milk in the nearby cities. Some of the families weave and sell thatch panels used for various purposes.
We saw no evidence of extreme poverty. A very few of the kids wore clothing that was a bit tattered, but all had shoes and most were dressed much better than kids in many of the villages we’ve been in. There was no indication that school supplies are lacking.
The school buildings are well maintained inside and out. Outside there is a small play area that the kids seem to enjoy. We watched for 20 minutes as they screamed and laughed while trying to jump from tire to tire. Señorita Senmache would like to put a roof over this area to shield the kids from the sun.
The remainder of the school grounds is just plain ugly (the school is on the left). Señorita Senmache would like to erect a brick wall around the school because she feels the kids are in danger from cars and moto-taxis taking short-cuts through the school grounds, and also because some ‘undesirable older kids’ occasionally invade the play area. She has appealed to the authorities in Monsefù but no help has been offered.
We agree with the improvements Señorita Senmache has proposed, but aren’t sure this is the type of project Promesa Peru should be involved in. There is no emergency situation and it doesn’t really fit our criteria of ‘helping people to help themselves’. It’s possible we could get involved, but we’d like to see the community take the initiative first.