Friday, January 6, 2017

Promesa Peru 2016 Year in Review

The year 2016 is in the books, and it was an active 12 months. Promesa Peru sponsored seventeen activities, including four chocolatadas. As usual most of the school project activities occurred in the first and second quarters. This is what we’ve come to refer to as the ‘panic period’ when teachers discover they have more students than anticipated and don’t have enough classroom furnishings, teaching aids and general supplies to accommodate them. Remember, when we say ‘school’ we’re usually referring to pronoeis that are not government funded. It’s up to the community to supply the pronoeis, and that is usually a financial impossibility.

The average school project cost was $359, a bit below previous years’ averages, largely because transportation costs were reduced. These projects generally involved donating whiteboards, storage shelves, tables and chairs. Noticeably absent this year were requests for uniforms and school supplies. We donated uniforms just once; to the primary and kinder school in Las Salinas. We were asked for and did furnish teaching aids to several schools, including puzzles, tangrams, books and games, but were not asked to supply the basics like pencils and paper. We’re not sure why that is but would like to think that perhaps Peru’s economic growth over the past few years has finally started to trickle down to the small villages, allowing parents to provide at least those few basics for their children.

The average cost of the four chocolatadas was $178. That figure is somewhat misleading because the San Francisco-Campodonico and Los Bances chocolatadas did not include entertainment, and Los Bances has only fourteen students which reduced the cost for toys. And speaking of entertainment, we’ve about decided not to hire professional entertainers for next year’s chocolatadas. These kids are from three to five years old. They live in remote villages in safe, familiar environments. They become frightened of the clowns we've typically used. This year we used a mother and daughter team who specialize in entertaining kids in this age group, but still the kids took a long time to relax and understand what was being asked of them during the games. Even the entertainers commented that the kids were more difficult to work with than city kids. Wherever we go kids seem to immediately warm up to Maribel, so we think that, with Maribel leading, we can come up with a half-hour program of simple games and activities that the kids and parents would understand and enjoy. We'll do a trial run to see what happens when we start visiting villages in February.

Twelve of the seventeen projects took place in the Tucume District. We had hoped to focus on other districts, but Tucume is where the phone calls came from. We believe we’ve pretty much saturated that district and would like to target the Mochumi (moe-chew-me) and San Jose districts this year. The mayor of San Jose has shown a strong interest in partnering with us to provide for the pronoeis in his district. We plan to visit the city hall in Mochumi soon to introduce ourselves and get information about the villages and pronoeis in that district.

This was our best year ever in terms of number of villages and students served, and donations received. Every year at year-end we tell ourselves that we need to cap our activities; that we’ve reached the maximum we can handle, but every year we do more projects than the previous year. Part of the reason is that increased donations have allowed us to do more, but also because we’re aware that there are still so many schools out there who need help. It would be nice if we had a regular core of volunteers we could call on to help with the purchase, organization and delivery of donated items, but volunteerism isn't the custom in Chiclayo. People expect to be paid for their work. We don't fault anyone for that, but no one working with Promesa Peru including us will ever be paid, so we'll continue on with the occasional volunteer help we do get. Instead of trying to put an arbitrary limit on our activities in 2017 we’ll probably just keep going until we hit the physical, mental or financial wall.

Absolutely crucial to our continued work are people like Chris Raupe, Amy Brown, “a friend in America”, Johany Glen/Webster University, Denny Wallette, Judy Berkow, and the Alice Cool Foundation. Without you folks, nothing happens.

We and they thank you.

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