Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Very Special Day in Tùcume Viejo

In August of 2014 Promesa Peru made its first donation in the Tùcume District to the primary/secondary school in Tùcume Viejo. Since that time we’ve donated to 20 separate projects in 16 different Tùcume District villages, but were still surprised when we received an invitation to attend the inauguration of the new school yesterday in Tùcume Viejo. The old school had been completely demolished and in its place stood a modern four-building complex.

These photos show the same view of the main entrance two years ago and now.

Upon presenting our invitation at the gate we were ushered to front row seating along with the mayor (second from the right) and his staff and several officials from the District office of Education. There were about 300 people in total. There was a flag raising, a blessing, many speeches, and gifts presented to people associated with the old school. We received a wine caddy. After the formalities several groups of students entertained the audience with native dancing.

Following the dancing those of us with invitations (about 30) were taken to the school’s cafeteria for a meal of cabrito. After eating, Maribel and I were asked to step to the front of the room where we were presented with a certificate by the mayor and school director acknowledging and thanking Promesa Peru for the work we’ve done to help the schools throughout the district in the past two years. It was a proud moment for us…to have our work recognized by city and district officials. As good as that recognition felt there was an even prouder moment waiting for us when we left the cafeteria and stepped outside into the school yard.

Many of the pronoei teachers we had worked with these past two years made the trip from their villages to Tùcume to add their thanks and appreciation. There were Saida from El Carmen, Karina from Los Sanchez, Lucy from Moyocupe, Maria del Rosario from San Antonio, Gloria from Payesa, Karina Chaponan from Alto Peru and Amalia from El Pavo as well as several mothers who had asked to accompany the teachers.

It was difficult to stay composed as they held up their banners and cheered us. The other 250 people including the mayor had no idea what was happening but they joined in anyway.

This was a proud day for the city of Tùcume Viejo, their new school, and for Promesa Peru. We will remember it for a long time, and thank the donors who made it possible.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

An Unusual Morning in Surupampa

We had been navigating the dirt mountain road from Motupe to Surupampa for nearly two hours, stopping only once when an old man hailed us to ask if we’d seen his black burro. We had seen many burros…and cows, pigs and goats but not a black burro. There is little to no traffic on this road and frequently it’s necessary to get out of the vehicle to shoo the sleeping animals out of the way. Burros and goats seem to understand that they need to move but cows and pigs just stand there as if waiting to see what happens next. They move only when the slowly moving vehicle is close to making contact. I guess I don’t blame them, their only option to get off the road is a steep ascent or decent.

This sow and her piglets took a lot of urging before they moved. The apparatus around the sow’s neck is there to prevent the pig from entering and eating in the corn fields.

There were five of us; the driver, Maribel and me, and two PEMU coordinators. I’ve mentioned before that the new road to Surupampa is rutted and boulder strewn and the ride is violent. Three people in the back seat in those conditions is not tolerable so when one of the coordinators announced that we were within a half-mile of the village a cheer rang out. The driver blew the horn several times to alert the villagers that we were coming, giving them time to assemble for the usual welcome.

When we pulled into the village there was no one in sight. I thought that maybe they had planned some sort of surprise and would rush out to greet us at a given signal, but no. After five minutes of horn blowing two men appeared from out of the brush. One of them had a key to the pronoei which he opened and then stood back while the driver and I unloaded the truck and placed the donated items in the classroom.

A few minutes later two kids appeared. They had no idea what was happening and didn’t even show interest in the toys and candy. We took a few photos (the women are Maribel and the PEMU coordinators); explained to the men how to assemble the storage shelves and hang the whiteboard, and that was it.
We were told that everyone including the kids were working in the fields. The coordinator said she had alerted the village two days ago that we were coming today in the morning and had no explanation for their absence. One of the village men told us that both the teacher and his wife were sick. It was disappointing not to see the looks of appreciation on the faces of the villagers, or to see the excitement of the kids about their new furniture, candy and toys, but our mission was to deliver needed items to the school, and that we accomplished.

During the ride back we met the man looking for his burro. He had not found it and said he would start watching the sky for circling vultures.

The cost for this project was:  
4 wood tables --- $144.29 --- 23.86%
16 metal chairs --- $262.84 --- 43.47%
1 whiteboard --- $51.17 --- 8.46%
Markers & erasers --- $8.96 --- 1.48%
2 storage shelves --- $47.96 --- 7.93%
Teaching aids --- $66.66 --- 11.02%
Candy & toys --- $15.28 --- 2.53%
Transport --- $7.49 --- 1.24%
Total - $604.65

Notice the transport cost, which consists of having the storage shelves and whiteboard delivered to our home. If we had had to pay for a private carrier to transport all of the items to Surupampa from Chiclayo it would easily have cost $150. As uncomfortable as it was, the PEMU truck saved us a lot of money.

Chris Raupe and the Alice Cool Foundation made this project possible. We thank you, and we know the people of Surupampa appreciate what you have done for their school.

As an aside for anyone interested in such things, this is the location of Surupampa according to my GPS unit. I was surprised at the altitude…I thought we were much higher.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Present for the Village of Los Sanchez

Last April 19 we completely outfitted the new Pronoei in Los Sanchez with physical furnishings. What we didn’t provide was teaching aids. The teacher, Karina has been getting by with a few notebooks and pencils bought with her own money along with government provided text books. That situation improved this morning when we presented Karina and the kids with puzzles, coloring books and crayons, reading books and tangrams, all with educational themes tailored to 3 to 5 year olds. For the kids the icing on the cake was a few inexpensive plastic toys that light up.

This was not a Promesa Peru project. It was the result of a generous unsolicited donation we received with instructions to use it for Los Sanchez. Karina asked us to extend her heartfelt thanks from her and the kids to “Señor Clif Brown”.
On a related matter, on May 3 we and a delegation from Los Sanchez meet with the mayor of Tùcume to explore possibilities for building a pronoei in the village. The mayor asked Karina to submit a letter of solicitation formally requesting that a school be constructed, which she did. Nothing has happened since then.  We are told that many people are dissatisfied with the mayor’s lack of activity and are pushing for a recall. It is not likely that the Los Sanchez request will be receiving government attention anytime soon.
On July 19 we published a post asking for donations for the pronoei in Surupampa. We’re happy to report that we have the funds for that project and have purchased the teaching aids, whiteboard, chairs, and storage shelves. Maribel was able to locate two 3-shelf models that cost considerably less than 5-shelf units.

Thanks to an additional donation by the Alice Cool Foundation we’ll be supplying 4 tables and 16 chairs to the pronoei instead of 3 and 12. The new road to the village is bringing more families to the area and soon the additional seating will be needed. We opted to buy the metal chairs manufactured in Lima. It’s been a good experience so far. The manufacturer called us when the truck was loaded, and the chairs arrived at our door last Monday as promised. The chairs are incredibly strong and should see many years of service.

The 4 wood tables should be ready by Friday. We hope to be in Surupampa early next week. We’re eager to see what the pronoei will look like when it’s furnished as a real classroom.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Chiclayo’s International Airport

The Chiclayo airport, officially known as Captain FAP Jose A Quinones Gonzales International Airport truly became international this month when Copa Airlines began weekly round-trip direct flights from Panama City, Panama to Chiclayo. When Copa announced the flight earlier this year many people including me questioned the reason for this flight. Why would Chiclayanos want to go to Panama? Why would Panamanians want to come to Chiclayo? Whatever the reasons, so far all flights both ways have been full.

Except for the Copa flight the only destination you can fly to from Chiclayo is Lima. No matter your destination in or out of Peru, you have to go through Lima. Being able to fly to Panama from Chiclayo opens up many foreign destinations like Cuba for instance, at less expense, time and effort.
LAN (now Latam Airlines) operates four flights daily from Chiclayo to Lima; LC Peru has two. All flights originate in Lima and will return there the same day. Turnaround time averages 40 minutes.There are no aircraft staged overnight in Chiclayo.

That’s about 700 passengers leaving Chiclayo daily for Lima, most of them having purchased round-trip tickets. Many of them will not go further than Lima; others will be going on to destinations in and out of Peru. None of the internal destinations are reached efficiently. For example, from Chiclayo to Lima to Tarapoto takes 12 hours 47 minutes on LAN. In the past Avianca Airlines flew direct from Chiclayo to Tarapoto. The total time was 45 minutes at less than half the price. Avianca no longer services Chiclayo.

Often travelers comment and complain about the inability to fly direct from Chiclayo to other Peruvian cities, but the people who run LAN and LC Peru are not stupid. If it was economically feasible to fly to multiple destinations from Chiclayo I’m sure they would do it. But just maybe change is in the wind.

The Chiclayo airport is scheduled for major remodeling (artist's drawing of finished project).  Starting in December the runways will be expanded at a projected cost of 64 million dollars. And over the next 5 to 6 years the terminal will be enlarged and modernized to the tune of 200 to 350 million dollars. There will be 8 gates as opposed to 2 now. The portable boarding stairways will be replaced with power boarding bridges (also known as jetways). The stated reason for the renovation is to accommodate the present and projected increase in tourist and business travelers and cargo leaving and coming into Chiclayo.

It doesn’t seem likely that a project of this magnitude would be done just to allow more flights to and from Lima. Maybe in a few years we’ll be able to fly direct from Chiclayo to other South American cities and perhaps even Miami. If that happens one thing is certain…we will not miss those long overnight layovers in the Lima airport.