Sunday, September 24, 2017

About standing for a National Anthem

Shortly after arriving in Chiclayo, Peru I was walking on Balta Ave and came upon some sort of ceremony. Street ceremonies are common in Peru. There was a stage with officious looking people on it, and a military band was playing officious sounding music. There was room on the opposite sidewalk to walk past so not knowing what was happening I continued on. A policeman stopped me; pointed to the stage and the crowd of people standing and singing with their hands over their hearts and indicated that I should do the same. I complied, and when the music stopped continued on my way. I was a little miffed about that policeman ‘forcing’ me to take part in something I didn’t understand, though if I had known the music was the national anthem I would have stopped out of respect.

The Peruvian national anthem is ubiquitous. It will be heard at the opening of a new park, street, store, school and school activities, sporting events and just about anything else you can think of. And what is interesting is to watch the faces of people during the playing of the anthem. They are not just going through the motions. They are very animated and their faces reflect a fierce pride as they sing. Sure, there are some whose attention is elsewhere but they're a tiny minority. Peruvians, like citizens across the world complain about their governments. Political protests, sometimes violent are part of the culture but there is no doubt about their allegiance to their country. I admire that feeling and demonstration of pride and loyalty.

The headlines today in the United States are all about President Trump’s comments respecting the national anthem, and various people’s/group’s reaction to those comments. There are 14 National Football League games scheduled today. There will be a significant number of players and others who plan to protest the anthem by sitting or other means. The media will have a feast detailing who did what. I’ll be watching as many games as I can today, but not the pre-game ceremonies.

I wouldn’t want to see obligatory participation in respecting the national anthem. In the grand scheme of things participating or not is probably no big deal, but……..

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Desert Village Named ‘The Cherry’??

Actually, the name is El Cerezo, which translates to cherry and it is located about 15 miles directly east of the city of Mochumi. The population is approximately 130 in the immediate area. The economy is agriculture, with the rice being the major crop. In the distant past there was a large plantation that raised cherries, giving the village its name, but the plantation and its cherries vanished to be replaced by other crops. There is no organized artisan community, though several of the women make trinkets to sell in Mochumi and elsewhere.

Anhela Diaz on the left in the photo has been teaching at the pronoei Huellitas de Christo for three years. Patricia, who is the District Coordinator for pronoeis in the Mochumi District is the other woman. The school was built as a joint project 10 years ago by the community, who donated the lot, and the Mochumi District who erected the building and a separate restroom and sink.

The two girls in sandals in the photo are sisters. Their mother apologized to Magali for the sandals, adding that they do have shoes at home that are in good condition but are kept in a box for special occasions.  

The building is in good condition inside and out and is reasonably well equipped except for the plastic chairs that were donated 5 years ago by the city and are starting to break. The whiteboard behind Anhela is cracked right down the middle and held together with tape. Anhela has 17 students who seem to be happy and have a good relationship with her.

Also present to greet Magali was Manuel, who is president of the parent’s association. His aunt, Guillermina Solano Aquino is 87, unmarried, and lives with her brother who is Manuel’s father. Guillermina is proud of her nephew and his commitment toward the pronoei where he has two kids attending.

The villagers have asked for a replacement for the whiteboard, teaching aids, two storage shelves, three tables and 15 chairs. Those items, together with transport cost and Magali’s time would total $621.06.

3 tables - $83.18
15 chairs – 231.05
1 whiteboard with markers and erasers – 60.07
2 storage shelves – 52.37
17 books and puzzles – 68.08
Transport – 64.70
Magali’s time – 61.61
Total – $621.06

We think this is a good project. The teacher and parent’s association show the kind of spirit we like to see. We have $286 toward this project. We need $335 to finish it.

Please consider helping us to help this school and community. You can do that by visiting the Promesa Peru webpage. Thank you from us and the village of El Cerezo.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The village of Tepo project is cancelled

During a visit to several villages in the Mochumi District last Wednesday, Magali stopped at Tepo, the subject of our last post on September 3 to determine what items would be suitable to donate to the primary school. During that visit the director of the primary school informed Magali that she would be resigning at the end of the school term in December. Magali then had a discussion with members of the parent’s association and was told that parents would no longer be boycotting the primary school and would be enrolling their kids from the pronoei in that school for the next term.

We had said in our post about Tepo that we felt that the pronoei was not needy but decided to donate to it and the primary school as an inducement to increase enrollment at the primary school if donations were received. With the director’s decision to resign there is no need for an inducement, and given that the pronoei is reasonably furnished we are canceling the project.

One interesting aside…as Magali was preparing to leave Tepo a woman asked if she could ride with her to a clinic in Mochumi. During the ride the woman, Rosa Santisteban Cajusol told Magali she had seen many changes in Tepo during her lifetime. We don’t doubt that. Last week on August 30 she celebrated her 104th birthday. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The villagers of Tepo need to forget

In the past in the village of Tepo the primary school I.E.P.N 11238 was a normal school with twenty-some students between the ages of six to eleven, two teachers and the director. The death of a nine-year old girl six years ago at the school altered that situation to the present day. Neither the director nor the parents would talk about the details of the circumstances, though Magali did learn that an investigation resulted in clearing the staff of any negligence. Blameless or not, the community held the school and staff accountable for the incident. Parents stopped sending their kids to the school. When enrolment dropped to only a handful, Mochumi authorities removed the two teachers, but retained (probably a mistake) the director as the only teacher. Though the death occurred six years ago the stigma remains. At present the primary has nine students, though there are many more students in Tepo eligible to attend. The school looks and feels to be in a state of limbo; it’s continued existence to on a day-to-day basis.

The parent’s association is not supporting the primary school and the appearance of the classroom shows it. The government is providing only minimal support, citing declining enrolment as the reason. Promised repairs for the recent flood damaged walls are probably in the distant future if at all.

The pronoei Mi Mundo Magico (My Magic World) is inside the primary school, using a classroom no longer needed. Curiously parents seem to have no reservations about having their kids attend class at the site of that girl’s death six years ago, which seems to indicate it is the director/teacher they are avoiding.

In contrast to the primary classroom, the pronoei is well maintained. Malena Seclen has been there since 2013 and appears to have a good repour with the parent’s association. She has an enrolment of twenty kids ages three to five. She would like to replace the plastic tables, some of which are broken, with five wood tables. She has chairs from the primary school. She has also asked for a whiteboard and storage shelf.

The pronoei in Tepo would normally not meet our criteria for donation, however here we feel is a condition that needs to be addressed and possibly Promesa Peru could help. We’d like to donate the items asked for to the pronoei, and provide teaching aids to the primary school. It is our hope that by demonstrating our interest in the primary school, the parents may soften their view and send their kids to I.E.P.N 11238 when they finish at the pronoei.

It’s not a good situation to have classrooms empty when they can be cleaned up for little cost, nor to have an experienced director/teacher being limited to a token number of students. There would be so many advantages to the kids and community to have I.E.P.N 11238 up and running again but for that to happen the villagers need to forget what happened…or what they think happened six years ago.

The cost for pronoei items would be:
Five tables - $139
One whiteboard – 53
Whiteboard erasers and markers – 8
Storage shelf – 27
Transportation – 47
Total - $274.00

We are not sure what would be appropriate to donate to I.E.P.N 11238 at this moment but would limit the cost to $100. We need $374 to accomplish this project. If you agree with our objective and would like to contribute please visit the Promesa Peru webpage. Thank you.