Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Invisible Village of Redondo

Somewhere around 90 miles north of Chiclayo; all of it on a decent asphalt highway is the small town of El Porvenir in the Olmos District. It took us 2 ½ hours to get that far. Public transportation would have added another hour. At El Porvenir there is a dirt road heading west toward the village of Redondo 15 miles away.

You need a guide to get there. We followed a guy on a motorcycle. There are no landmarks, and there are many forks in the road leading off in all directions. The country all looks the same; scrub desert growth. There is no agriculture here because there is no water. This is goat, sheep, turkey, and for some of the more affluent people, cattle country.
After 35 minutes the guide stopped and told us we were in Redondo. I thought he was joking. There was not one single house in sight. Other than a fence and a hut constructed of poles and weather-beaten fabric there was nothing visible that had been touched by the hand of man.

The hut is what we had been brought there to see. The hut is pronoei Alegria de Los NiƱos. It’s been there for one year with teacher Isabel Monja trying her best to teach the 9 kids regularly attending. 

She has absolutely nothing to work with. There are other kids in the area but they don’t come because of the limitations of the school. They’re not attending school at all.

In ones and twos from out of the woods a delegation of parents appeared. I don’t know how they knew we were there. They told us the same story we’re heard four times this year at other caserios. They have a lot to build a pronoei on but no money to do it and the authorities in Olmos say they don’t have money to build. One of the men works in construction in Olmos. He estimated that the cost of a concrete slab and modular building with restroom would cost $6,200. Labor would add another $1,550. That’s a lot of money.

It’s a helpless feeling…not being able to do anything for them. Those kids are not getting the kind of education they need and it’s nobody’s fault. Our discussion ended as it did in Olleria yesterday. A delegation will visit the mayor in Olmos to see if the district can contribute something if there were outside help. We’ll wait to hear from them.

Tomorrow we’ll be at the village of Chita Loma in the district of Salas. We don’t know what we’ll find there but it won’t surprise us if it’s another pronoei that needs a home.

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