Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Significant Change for Maribel, Me and Promesa Peru

After nine wonderful years of living in Chiclayo Peru and traveling the length and breadth of this fascinating country, Maribel and I will soon be returning permanently to the United States. Maybe some day we’ll get into the various factors that led up to this decision, but for now it's enough to say it's the right time and the right thing to do.

Our focus at this moment is planning the move to the US, but also in our thoughts is Promesa Peru. For eight years we've been visiting make-shift schools in poverty-stricken desert villages, providing them with classroom furnishings, school supplies, uniforms and teaching aids. There are still so many more schools in need of help that the thought of discontinuing Promesa Peru is weighing heavily on us. After giving it a lot of thought, we believe we have an option to continue helping those kids.

Magali (center) is Maribel’s younger sister. She is a wife, mother and teacher. She has a bachelor's degree in literature and teaches the subject afternoons in a high school. She does private tutoring in the morning to augment family income. On weekends she studies toward a master’s degree.

During the past six weeks she's had an unexpected break in her tutoring schedule, and has accompanied us on some projects so is familiar with our routine. Being a teacher she relates well to the pronoei teachers. Several times she has offered solid suggestions to us and the teachers about how to deal with specific problems, including physical classroom needs and administrative issues. 

We're confident that Magali could carry on with the work. She is willing and enthusiastic about helping Promesa Peru to continue, but a problem is that she cannot afford the loss of her tutoring income to work on Promesa Peru projects. She would need to be compensated for her time, which is in conflict with the philosophy we started with eight years ago that no one in the Promesa Peru organization will ever be paid for their work. To this date that has been true, but conditions and circumstances we could not have foreseen at the time have changed. We never imagined a time when we would not be in Peru to do the work. We don't have another option...we either compensate Magali for her time when working on a project or close the doors on Promesa Peru.

We have had several discussions with her about formally taking on the responsibility of representing Promesa Peru in the Lambayeque Region, and have been training her for the past month. We agreed that if she were to represent us, 20 Peruvian Soles per hour for her time ($6.15 at today’s rate) would be fair. A private tutor typically earns 25 to 40 Soles per hour. Depending on the complexity of the project this could add anywhere from $45 to $75 (9 to 14%) to the cost of an average project.

Maribel and I would continue to make all decisions. The scenario we see is that when Magali receives a request to visit a village she would forward that request to us. If we approve the visit, Magali will go to the village with a questionnaire we've prepared, designed to learn as much about the area, village, people, pronoei and pronoei needs as possible. Magaly will send the information she gathers to us along with photos and her opinion as to what if anything should be donated. If we approve we will write a post describing the village, school and scope of the project. If we receive donations to fund the project Magali would be responsible for purchasing and transporting the items. She would take photos of the donated items in the classrooms as we do now and send them to us for publication in this blog and the Promesa Per webpage. In theory the system would operate as it does now.

Magali is the only person we would trust with this responsibility. When circumstances permit we're going to do a trial project with her flying solo. If it doesn’t work out for her or us, or if it turns out to be too cumbersome or costly, we will have to say goodbye to Promesa Peru.

We would welcome any thoughts from our readers about this subject.


  1. Hi Tom,

    I was quite surprised to read that you are moving back to the United States.

    So, is it going to be cold Wisconsin or sunny Florida? Jaja

    Anyway, I hope your relocation goes smoothly.

    And remember

    Cuando una puerta se cierra, ciento se abren

    Maria (mammalu)

    1. Hi Maria,

      It’s been awhile since I’ve heard from you. Seems like a lifetime ago.

      Maribel and I both miss the smell, sounds and feel of an oak & pine forest on a cool Wisconsin fall morning; especially the brilliant fall colors but neither of us wants to face those long winters again. And Florida is…well…it’s Florida. Years ago the company I worked for had several manufacturing facilities in eastern Tennessee. I always enjoyed visiting those plants because of the many lakes, rivers, and forested mountains. Southern Virginia and northern Georgia look pretty much the same. But wherever we end up, we’re both looking forward to being ‘home’ again.

      Thanks for writing.

  2. Hi Tom,
    A sad day for Peru.
    I am going to miss your posts and looking forward to your book.
    I have been in Florida for about a year, sadly Johnny and the boys could not come.
    Good luck to you.

    1. Hi Kelly,
      It feels like a reunion...first Maria and then you. I like it. I wonder how many people from that era are still on Expat?

      I think I'll still be writing about Peru for awhile. I've got a ton of memories and experiences that I haven't touched on.
      Be well,

  3. We wish you all the luck in the world. Thanks for all your hard work in Peru
    Jim and Johany