Monday, May 23, 2016

Good progress for the villages of El Carmen and Moyocupe

We’ve raised enough money to place an order with a carpenter in Tùcume to manufacture 8 tables and 14 chairs for the villages of El Carmen and Moyocupe. The furniture will be ready June 3. All that remains for the two villages is:

4 storage shelves - $100,
1 whiteboard for El Carmen - $45.
Transport and misc. items (whiteboard markers, erasers, etc.) - $70
Total - $215

Our thanks to Judy Berkow for donating the money for Moyocupe’s whiteboard and to the others who have contributed.

We haven’t yet received donations for the village of San Antonio’s school, but we only need $310 and we’re hopeful.

If you can help us to complete the El Carmen and Moyocupe projects, or get us started on San Antonio please visit the Promesa Peru webpage. Thank you.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The First Annual Karl Weiss Olympics

Five years ago the Karl Weiss School was in deplorable condition. Roofs had gaping holes, walls were in danger of collapsing and the grounds used for outdoor sports looked like trash dumps. Furniture and classroom furnishings were in the same condition. Rather than attempt to remodel it, school authorities decided to demolish all of the buildings and the outdoor areas. That was quite an undertaking…there were at least eight separate classroom buildings, an auditorium and several office buildings to accommodate the hundreds of kinder, primary and secondary students.. When demolition began on January 17, 2012 many Chiclayanos were skeptical that the school would be rebuilt in a reasonable time frame. Some doubted that, given the magnitude of the project it would be rebuilt at all.  The doubters were proven wrong

On February 2, 2015 Peru’s President Ollanta Humala inaugurated the re-born school. Many Chiclayanos had their first look at the school that day, and all came away impressed. The two-story classroom buildings, administrative offices, kitchen/cafeteria and auditorium as well as furnishings are all first-rate. The showcase piece is probably the gymnasium. It has an Olympic-size pool and basketball courts and space for indoor track and field events.

Today kicked off the first annual Karl Weiss Olympics; a competition between graduating classes to be held over a three month period in many different events. There will be basketball, swimming, volley ball, bike racing and many other events including track and field. Soccer was the event scheduled on this first day of competition. The new field, with its nicely maintained artificial turf has space for six concurrent matches.

Maribel’s class of 1980 purchased new uniforms for the occasion and gave their all on the field. Unfortunately the gods of soccer did not smile on them but the 0 – 6 loss did nothing to dampen their spirits. They had agreed beforehand that if they won they would celebrate with beer and ceviche at a local tavern, but if they lost they would celebrate with beer and ceviche at a local tavern. They kept their agreement.

I don’t know if the class of 1980 will be participating in other events, but they will be back on the soccer field next Sunday, and we’ll be there cheering them on.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Village of San Antonio

We were on a combi about half-way between San Antonio where we had visited earlier in the day and Chiclayo, both of us lost in thought when Maribel suddenly looked at me and asked, ”What are you going to write about San Antonio?” When I looked at her quizzically she continued with, “What I mean is, how many ways are there to say that a poor, small desert village has an under-equipped pronoei that needs tables, chairs, storage shelves and a whiteboard?” Hmmm.

Often when we’ve visited a village that we hope to help I am able to mentally compose a post on the combi, so that when we get home all I have to do is sit down and start writing. Sometimes not. Sometimes there is a complete blank when I sit down at the computer, and I need a couple of days to compose something that is hopefully interesting. I was concerned that Maribel’s question to me would result in a month’s worth of writer’s block, but then I thought, look, I was there, I saw things and I talked with people. I formed impressions about some of the things I saw and heard. Why not just sit down and start writing about those impressions? So here we go.

San Antonio is a small desert village. You already know that. What you don’t know is that the village and a large portion of the entire area is surrounded by dry rice paddies with brown rice plants wanting to be harvested now. That means the processing factories in the city of Lambayeque will be gearing up to process that rice, which means field workers, truck drivers and factory workers will have steady work for a while. There are 28 regions in Peru. The Lambayeque Region produces the majority of rice grown in Peru, with some estimates being as high as 80%.

San Antonio is located smack on the bank of the Chancay River. Until today we had never seen a village in the Lambayeque Valley located on a river bank because of the danger of seasonal flooding. The difference here is that the Chancay River has been harnessed. There are concrete sides and bottom to contain it, and sluice gates to control it. The irrigation provided by the river is the reason for the abundance of rice, corn and sweet potatoes.

This is the exterior of the pronoei Gotitas de Ternura (Droplets of Tenderness). That’s Purgatory Mountain in the background. The mountain is visible from most of the villages in the eastern half of the Tùcume district. On and around the mountain are ruins of temples and pyramids from the Moche culture, dating from about 600 AD to 1200 AD. There are still some people in the area who believe the mountain harbors spirits. Among the ruins is a small but attractive and informative site museum. A man working at the museum owns the house the pronoei occupies. He has said the pronoei can continue in the house for the foreseeable future.

Maria Del Rosario Veliz has taught at Gotitas de Ternura for the past two years. Prior to that she taught at a pronoei in the village of Zapotal. Maria has 12 students, some with given names I had never heard before, like Milagros (Miracle), Kard and Sayaka. They are happy kids and were eager to show us the coloring they were doing when we arrived.

Maria didn’t ask for school supplies, uniforms or a whiteboard. She would like 2 tables and 12 chairs, saying that the plastic chairs she has are borrowed from village families. The cost would be:

2 tables @ $36/ea - $72
12 chairs @  $13.75/ea - $165
2 storage shelves @ $24/ea - $48
Transport and Misc. – $25
Total - $310

Please help us with this project by visiting the Promesa Peru webpage. A donation of just $13.75 will provide one of those kids with a safe and sturdy chair. Thank you.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The village of El Carmen

El Carmen was one of the few villages in the eastern half of the Tùcume District we had not visited. That situation changed earlier this week when we followed up on Saida Sandoval’s invitation to visit her pronoei.

El Carmen is somewhat larger than other villages in the area, with over 30 families calling the village home. Like its neighboring villages it has no commercial businesses. Agriculture in the form of corn and sweet potatoes is the main industry, with honey and fruit also contributing to family income. We saw several animal pens holding many pelibueys; in English known as sheep-goat. The residents told us the flavor is delicious. 

The dirt streets and houses are clean and maintained, though there is no attempt at aesthetics…no ornamental shrubbery or other small touches we sometimes look for as an indication of community pride, but in these poor villages clean is good enough for us.  Burro and horse droppings in the street come with the territory.  

The pronoei Mis Pequeños Angelitos mirrors the village in its modest appearance and sparse furnishings, but what it lacks in material possessions it makes up for in spirit, both in the teacher, parents and kids. Usually there is a period of ‘strangeness’ when we first enter a village but these folks welcomed us from the get go as if we were long lost relatives.

The building housing the pronoei is not owned by the community, however the understanding is that the owner has donated the use of the building in perpetuity. Saida has 15 students this school term and will have 18 next year, all of them living in El Carmen. Eighteen kids will be pushing the limit of available space, and Saida is going to need a lot more furniture than the two tables and 7 chairs she has now.

We hope to contribute these items to pronoei Mis Pequeños Angelitos:

Four tables - $145
Eight chairs - $110
Two storage shelves $50
One whiteboard - $45
Transport and Misc. - $35
Total - $385

We’re going to need help to do that. Please, please visit the Promesa Peru webpage if you can help us. Any amount is appreciated. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Moyocupe…the village at the end of the road

There can’t be more than ten families living in this peaceful little village. It’s located in the fringe of a dry forest on the southern border of Bosque de Pomac; an extensive nature sanctuary. The road really does stop here, at a chained gate. Unlike a gated community in the USA you don’t need a key or code to enter. All you need to do is lift the chain over the post, but be sure to put it back when you’re inside.

Other than birds there is no sound…dry forests are like that. Women are inside their houses doing what village women do, while the men (and some women) are working in fields that someone else owns. Corn and sweet potatoes are the main crops. They’ll return to the village for lunch at 1:00 pm. The few buildings in Moyocupe are private homes, the two exceptions being a community kitchen and the pronoei Semilliitas de Saber.

Lucy Lopez has been the teacher since the school opened two years ago. She is a somewhat shy 20 year old who is well liked by the kids and respected by the parents. Lucy phoned us after hearing about Promesa Peru from several teachers at a recent conference. The community owns the lot and the building on it. They have been unable to furnish the classroom. Three benches that serve for storage belong to the community kitchen and need to be returned to the kitchen every Friday, then brought back to the school Monday morning. A plaster chalkboard is pitted and cracked. Lucy has two tables and eight chairs for her 14 students. She would like four tables and six chairs, two storage shelves and a whiteboard.

The school is in good repair inside and out. Lucy and the parents have a sincere interest in the kid’s education. We’d like to help the folks of Moyocupe to properly equipment their classroom. We estimate the cost would be:

Four tables - $145
Six chairs - $82
Two storage shelves - $50
One whiteboard - $45
Transport and Misc. - $35
Total - $357

Please help us with this project by making a donation of any amount at the Promesa Peru webpage. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Meeting with the Mayor of Tùcume

In a recent post we mentioned the tenaciousness of a teacher and parent’s association in the village of Los Sanchez  toward their goal of having a school built.  When we left their village two weeks ago the teacher, Karina said she would contact the mayor to set up a meeting to talk about a school. She and members of the parent’s association had previously talked with the mayor and were told there is no money. Karina felt that adding Promesa Peru to the issue might produce a better outcome. We had that meeting this morning.

Santos Sanchez is in the first year of a four-year term. He’s a personable man with a charming, easy going manner. He seemed genuinely interested in what we - me and Maribel, Karina and three of the village women had to say. We’ve donated items worth thousands of dollars during the past few years to schools in the Tùcume District, so it was a little disappointing to learn that Santos had not heard of Promesa Peru. He thanked us profusely when Maribel ticked off the names of the villages and schools we’ve helped, and Karina shared her experience with our recent donation to her school.

Discussion began with the issue of ownership of the lot to build a school on. We have a copy of the legal title and had our attorney look at it. It basically gives the legal description of the lot, and goes on to spell out that the owner of the lot, a woman who inherited the property from her father agreed to sell the lot to a five-member committee representing the parents association of Los Sanchez for the purpose of building a pronoei to be named “Los Niños de Jesus”. The selling price was 600 soles for the 158 square meter lot. The document was signed by all parties on March 6 2008 in Chiclayo. There seems to be no doubt that the community owns the lot. Construction was never started.

Karina emphasized to the mayor several time that “…if Promesa Peru can help us this is an opportunity we should not let pass.” We were quick to emphasize the “if”, saying that we make no promises other than that if a reasonable proposal should result from our discussion we would consider asking for donations.

The meeting lasted a little over an hour. The action plan agreed on this morning is that the parents association will submit a formal “letter of solicitation” asking the mayor to have a school built in Los Sanchez. When Santos receives the letter he will meet with his budget staff to determine the cost of building a school, and what the City of Tùcume could contribute toward that cost. At that point he will contact Karina who will contact us for a second meeting.

We have no idea what it would cost to construct a pronoei and neither did the mayor. Odds are nothing will come of this, but it will be an interesting learning experience, and it would be rewarding to be part of the emergence of a school in Los Sanchez.