Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pondering the Path of Promesa Peru

Back in 2008 a handful of friends with Peru connections sitting around a table loaded with food and drink in California talked about doing something to help poor families in Peru. With limited financial resources we weren’t sure what we could do, but agreed that Maribel and I would explore ideas when we returned to Chiclayo. For no good reason we gave our effort a name…Promesa Peru.

Our first venture was very modest. We contributed $50 for a chocolatada in a village named Capote. That was it for the year 2008. During the next five years, 2009 through 2013 there were seven projects for $2400. Most of that was our own money. Contrast that with twenty projects totaling $8776 in 2014 and 2015.

Two things happened to account for the dramatic increase in activity beginning in early 2014. The first is that the villages of the Lambayeque Region learned that Promesa Peru existed. The ‘discovery‘ began with our visit to the village of San Miguel in April 2014 where  we helped the school create a library in an unused classroom by providing all furnishings and contributing to repair work. Word got out rapidly and we soon had (and still have) more invitations to visit than we could immediately handle. Prior to that we used to locate villages on Google Map and pop in uninvited. We haven’t had to do that in over two years.

The second reason for the increased activity is increased donations. In March of 2014 a very generous man began making monthly donations to Promesa Peru. He still does. In May of that same year the Alice Cool Foundation began and continues to contribute to our projects. Periodic donations by others have helped.

Though we’re proud of what we’ve done, our goal is not to see how many projects we can sponsor or how much money we can spend. Our goal is to provide an opportunity for better education to those schools and communities that need and deserve assistance.

With four exceptions we have visited every school that has invited us. Three of the exceptions were schools located outside of the Lambayeque Region. In the last two years we have donated to 70% of the schools we’ve seen. When we visit a school what we look for is need, cleanliness in the school and community, a qualified and caring teacher, and a parents association that is actively working to benefit the school and students. If we don’t see those things we don’t get involved. For example, if a school's chair or table is beyond repair we view that as a need. On the other hand sometimes all that is needed is a board, hammer and nails. Someone in that village has the ability to make that repair. If they don’t care enough to fix the problem neither do we.

Now, in June 2016 we’re only half-way through the year and have already sponsored eight projects (including Alto Peru which will be completed next week) for $2955. If that continues we’re on track for a 16-project $6000 year. In California in 2008 we never imagined that Promesa Peru would be functioning at this pace.

There are still hundreds of pronoei, kinder and primary schools in the Lambayeque Region we have not seen and our phone continues to ring with invitations. We have no idea and have not talked about how long we will continue to do this. Best guess is that as long as the invitations keep coming and there are people donating who, like us believe we’re accomplishing something we’ll keep visiting those desert villages.

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